Frank-Steffen Walliser might have the most enviable job at Porsche -- and the most challenging. The Stuttgart native has been given the keys to the brand's most iconic sports car, figuratively.
The 911 was Porsche's No. 4-selling vehicle by volume last year, but the car defines the brand and all of its sister models derive their legitimacy from its aura.
This spring Walliser, a career Porsche manager, took over as head of the 911 model line from August Achleitner, who held the role for 18 years during which time he engineered three successive generations of Porsche's famous coupe.
Product line heads enjoy a great deal of autonomy at Porsche. They are responsible for meeting all product-related goals on time and within budget, from technical to financial and everything in between. They also have full control over the purse strings.
"Practically speaking, we form a company within a company," said Achleitner, whose parting advice to his successor was "trust the team to do its job."
Walliser, who turns 50 this month, has an impeccable resume. After receiving a doctorate with honors in industrial science, he rose through the Porsche ranks to become project leader for the 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid, a vehicle that helped push Porsche toward creating the Taycan full-electric supercar. Along with running Porsche's GT and Cup cars, Walliser also serves as director of motor sports.
One of the key conundrums he will eventually have to tackle is how to take the 911 forward in the looming electric era. In two or three years, development will begin on the next generation 911, which will be sold past 2030. CEO Oliver Blume has indicated that by then Porsche could be a full-electric brand.