Although a South African-born entrepreneur might be the most well-known maker of electric cars, another company has been at it for far longer. Ferdinand Porsche’s first car was all-electric and unveiled with a drive through the streets of Vienna. Now, over 120 years later, the car company he started is using data and analytics to create and optimise its latest creation, the all electric Porsche Taycan.

As the company moves from cars to what it calls “luxury mobility”, it’s on a quest to use data not just to ensure the tyres are at the right pressure and the engine is running smoothly but to bring a rich experience to customers. The use of data was one of the keys to bringing the Taycan to life. The company said, during the opening keynote of Splunk.Conf in Las Vegas and through multiple technical sessions that data is being used to optimise performance, giving drivers that buzz that comes from driving a performance car, as well ensuring the charging system is “what you expect from Porsche”.

By collecting data from every part of the car and as much of the driving experience as possible, Porsche says it uses Splunk’s software to better understand what drivers want more precisely in order to deliver that optimised experience. It’s allowed the company to pull together data from multiple sources and create a consolidated view of what is happening right across the business from design and manufacturing through to personnel management and finances.

With data previously trapped within specific programs and databases, accessing data required giving people access to servers and applications. Tim Klapper, the IT Services manager at Porsche, said the impact on manufacturing by using data at Porsche is just as profound as when Henry Ford revolutionised car making through the automated production line. AI, said Klapper, delivers a 39 per cent boost in production. This is because the access to data and AI is allowing the company to detect and rectify problems it never knew it had.

All of this falls under the company’s ‘Mission Digital’ initiative, headed by Stefan Arnold, the head of digital at Porsche. That’s allowed the company to completely disrupt its manufacturing processes, allowing the Taycan to be built with a 100 per cent CO2 neutral process.

Arnold said that by looking closely at the data from cars and chargers the car maker has been able to deliver 400km of driving range in just 20 minutes using the charging network the company is building in North America and Europe. “Everything is data driven,” he said.

“We bring together the data from the first step to the last step to set up a digital ecosystem around customer experience. It’s about more than collecting data. It’s about passion, tech and, most important, it’s mindset and people. If you combine data and AI, you have one of the biggest game-changers of the next decade,” he said.

The data, he aded, is just the first step. Getting into the data, much of which is held in AWS, and deriving action from it is critical for the future or Porsche and drives the company’s strategy.

Splunk’s Peter Swart said that machine learning and AI, as well as refining and optimising manufacturing, enables Porsche to personalise the driving experience and assist with preventative maintenance of vehicles.

The Taycan, said Arnold, is the perfect example of this strategy. The data has allowed Porsche to being new capabilities to their processes and vehicles resulting in better services and experiences for customers. During Arnold’s presentation an engineer commissioned a new charging station for the fully electric Taycan during a live demonstration. When he pointed a smartphone camera at the charging station instructions to activate the station and connect it to the Porsche network were displayed along with manuals and instructional videos using augmented reality. That charging station appeared instantly as an available charger for all Taycan owners.

Every step of that process is strongly data driven, from the manufacture of the charging station, through to its commissioning and its published availability to Taycan owners.

All that data has allowed the famed car-maker to create dashboards for everyone from the factory floor to the dashboard that deliver the right data at the right time.

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