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Auto blogWed, 26 Feb 2014 14:59:00 EST
The night before Porsche handed me the keys to its 2015 Macan to drive on both road and track, the company threw together a great dinner for the assembled media in Leipzig. Hosted in Porsche's spaceship-shaped customer delivery center in the eastern German town, I'll admit that I spent the bulk of my night grabbing hors d'oeuvres from passing waiters (they do a nice tuna sashimi), milling around a collection of historic and interesting vehicles on the top floor and gulping down Warsteiner.
In an era of mega car companies, the story of how the 918 came to be was really refreshing.
Before the evening was over, however, Porsche design chief Michael Mauer stopped by my table to exchange pleasantries and thank us all for coming out to drive the Macan. My fellow diners and I passed a pleasant half-hour or more picking the brain of the forthcoming Mauer, and somehow or another, the topic turned to Porsche's newest supercar, the 918 Spyder. In an era of mega car companies (the Volkswagen Group included) and massive development teams, the story of how the 918 came to be is really refreshing.
Some stories are so sad and depressing, they make you want to go back to bed and pull the covers over your head. This is one such story. 14-year-old Raphael Wittman was suffering from an unspecified form of terminal cancer when he was invited by the children's cancer charity Kinder Krebs Hilfe to a charity drive organized by Porsche Forum Austria. During the drive, the Porsche Boxster Wittman was riding in was involved in a head-on collision. Both of his legs were broken and he bit off his tongue in the wreck. He died seven weeks later, in a Vienna hospital. Now, his father is suing the charity, claiming that the accident robbed his son of the will to live.
"The accident set off a chain of events starting with the doctors putting him on new medication for the cancer he had. He was always a fighter, but suddenly he was saying that he was not going to fight any more," Franz Wittman told Austria's Kurier, according to The Guardian. "We would have had a wonderful last time together [on vacation] but it never happened because of the accident."
Father and son were originally planning to go to Tenerife to spend time together, although those plans were cancelled following the accident.
Just weeks before he was supposed to become CEO of Porsche Cars Australia, Infiniti has apparently offered Porsche COO and Executive Vice President Michael Bartsch a deal he couldn't refuse. Thus, Bartsch has join the company as Vice President of Infiniti Americas, the luxury marque's top North American post. Bartsch replaces Ben Poore, who has been with the automaker since 2008, having led both a 22-percent sales surge in 2012 and the brand's current sales slough, Automotive News reports.
Bartsch, Porsche's No. 2 US executive, has held the COO and Executive Vice President positions at Porsche since 2005 and was scheduled to become CEO of Porsche's Oz division on September 1. Infiniti has experienced a number of recent personnel changes in the past week: it named Vincent Gillet, formerly an executive for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, to lead its marketing efforts worldwide and Simon Cox, a former designer for automakers including Ford and Peugeot, to head a new design studio in London.
Poore reportedly will pursue other interests outside of the auto industry. Read more about the personnel change in the press release below.