Interview with high-voltage expert Manuel Odermatt

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The Porsche Centre Zug is powered up and ready to go – just like the Porsche of the future. After all, the launch of the Taycan is not our only clear commitment to electric mobility. Our staff training programme is also fully geared towards the future – a future for which we need pioneers, lateral thinkers and employees with a passion for their job. Employees like Manuel Odermatt – Silver-Certified Porsche Automobile Diagnostician, High-Voltage Technician and High-Voltage Expert.

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Interview: Raffael Wild

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You’re a trained and certified high-voltage expert at the Porsche Centre Zug – how did you achieve this status?
It certainly has something to do with the fact that I graduated from a higher college of vocational education, so I was already at an advanced level in electrical engineering. And I was interested in the course, so I signed up of my own accord.

How does this kind of training course actually work?
There were three of us altogether and the course was held at the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart for just under two weeks. A good deal of the training consisted of theoretical instruction, working on the basics of high-voltage technology and systems. We then looked at the Panamera E-Hybrid in practice, repairing and replacing batteries. Another topic was the shipping of critical lithium-ion batteries: to be disposed of properly, they have to be placed in a special container with quartz sand granulate for shipping purposes. If the battery is damaged, the energy is absorbed by the quartz.

What has changed in your work since you became a qualified high voltage expert?
There are more and more Porsche hybrid vehicles on the road now, so I mainly take care of that side of things – usually to do with the batteries or indeed the entire energy system. Basic jobs such as wheel changes and normal service work can be carried out by all our diagnosticians and mechatronics technicians at the workshop.

What’s your background?
I originally trained as an automobile mechatronics technician with Audi and VW before doing further training as an automobile diagnostician. I spent a total of 10 years at Audi and VW, and I’ve now been working at the Porsche Centre Zug since spring 2018.

“Porsche” and “high voltage” – just a few years ago you’d never have associated these concepts with each other. Is Porsche being successful in its efforts to enter this new segment?
Absolutely – Porsche will definitely manage it. We’re certainly not moving too soon here, either: the turning point has come and the boom is on the way. So I think we’re very much in line with the times with our electric and hybrid cars. And the new Porsche Taycan has sent out a clear signal to the industry that we’re serious about what we’re doing.

Is there a specific daily routine in your work?
I start my day at 7.30 a.m. – our workshop manager assigns the cars and the relevant tasks to the employees. At the moment I usually get the trickier cases – if a customer is hearing noises or something like that, for example. We’re often in contact with Porsche Switzerland – they might know of similar cases from other Porsche Centres. But it’s particularly satisfying for me when I identify the fault: it gives you a sense of achievement which you wouldn’t get in the same way with normal maintenance.

Where does your fascination and enthusiasm for Porsche come from?
Everything simply fits perfectly – the design matches the interior. When you get into a Porsche, you notice this harmony and interplay. To me, Porsche is one of the absolute top sports car manufacturers in the world – I can’t imagine a better automobile brand I would want to work for.

What’s your favourite Porsche model?
I don’t really have a favourite – I always love the new models.

What do you think the workshop at the Porsche Centre in Zug will look like in 10 years’ time?
There’ll certainly be more hybrids and purely electrically powered vehicles – I would say that more than 50% of our service work will be on purely electric Porsche cars.

The Taycan is in the starting blocks. What’s your first impression of it?
Porsche has shown what’s possible – the design is breathtaking and puts all other electric vehicles in the shade. We’re really looking forward to finally getting the Taycan here.