Wolfgang Hatz, 53, has until recently had dual roles, being both Porsche’s board member for R&D, and head of Powertrain Development at the Volkswagen Group. Effective 1 October, responsibility for VW Group Powertrain shifted to Heinz-Jakob Neußer, allowing Dr Hatz to fully concentrate on his role at Porsche. He recently spoke to Glenn Brooks about future models, platforms and engines.

j-a: We’ve just seen the new Panamera Sport Turismo concept unveiled at the Paris show. Is that car’s powertrain headed for production?

WH: The concept showcases e-hybrid, which is our future plug-in hybrid system. On that car we have 70kW of electric power fitted between the engine and the transmission.

j-a: It’s linked to a petrol engine in the concept but are you also planning diesel hybrids or diesel plug-in hybrids?

WH: In the long term, perhaps. But I don’t think you would say we are mostly a diesel brand. So for now, we will launch a plug-in gasoline hybrid. In markets where we sell most of our hybrid models, such as China and the United States, diesels are not so popular. Therefore our focus for plug-in hybrids will be with gasoline engines.

j-a: Your role has just changed, so as head of R&D for Porsche, will you now work separately from other engineering operations within the Volkswagen Group?

WH: Weissach [Porsche’s engineering HQ] is a very special R&D centre in the sense that we can do everything in-house. We have our dynos, our wind tunnel, our crash centre, our design centre, we have our test circuit. From my office, in two minutes I can be on the test track. So we can develop an entire car without leaving Weissach. I don’t think this situation exists anywhere else in the world – it is unique what we have. But, we are small. Now with the integrated group, we are the third R&D centre after Wolfsburg for Volkswagen and Ingolstadt for Audi.

Weissach might be smaller than Wolfsburg or Ingolstadt but our role is very important for the group. We have worked closely [with other VW Group divisions], for example on the Cayenne and Touareg and Q7 SUVs – this was the Colorado project so you see we are used to working together. This is nothing new but what is new since the last let’s say one and a half or two years now, is that Wolfsburg is in charge of this so-called ‘MQB’ platform (transverse FWD/AWD), while Ingolstadt is in charge of MLB (longitudinal FWD/AWD) and we are in charge of MSB.

j-a: What else can you tell us about MSB? Which models will use it?

WH: It will be rear-wheel drive and also all-wheel drive. We will develop the future Panamera using MSB. With this modular approach, we can maybe build a sedan, or a coupe, or perhaps a convertible so that gives us many possibilities which we might not have had before.

j-a: If Porsche develops a platform, will the first vehicle to use it always be a Porsche?

WH: It’s not necessarily like this but it’s planned that way for MSB. Other brands will use it too.

j-a: Are there other Porsche platforms which can be used by the Volkswagen Group?

WH: We have so much experience with sports cars, in the future, we will take a key role to develop our future MMB platform (Modulare Mittel Baukasten). We can build a mid-engined design, or a rear-engined car. But our first priority at the moment is for MSB and the next generation Panamera.

j-a: Is there much sharing of components with Porsche’s 9X1 architecture?

WH: Yes, it’s more than 50 percent common parts between the 991 (new 911) and 981 (new Boxster). The front ends are very similar.

j-a: What is the codename for the next Cayman?

WH: (Laughing)…not 9-something but C7S, which perhaps makes things confusing! But yes, it also uses 9X1. It will have a longer wheelbase and there are many similarities with the Boxster. So with this platform, we can vary the length of the wheelbase, also the width and we can have the engine at the rear or else it can be mid-engined.

j-a: Could you build a front-engined vehicle using 9X1?

WH: No, not with 9X1.

j-a: There have been many rumours about a smaller Porsche sports car. Specifically a project to share such a model with VW or Audi.

WH: There was another brand in the group which was interested in such a car. But for the moment we have put that down our list of priorities. We have so many other things to do that we have stopped the project for a small roadster.

In part two, which will be published on 11 October, Dr Hatz airs some strong views on emissions legislation, while in part three, he reveals details of the future Porsche 918 Spyder.