Porsche’s new 911 Dakar launched at the 2022 Los Angeles auto show last November was originally meant to be called the 911 Safari, according to the person in charge of the off-road sports car’s development.
In an interview with Edmunds published last week, Thomas Krickelberg, director of the 911 Dakar program, said the car was originally called the 911 Safari during the early days of development but Porsche had to abandon those plans after being refused permission to use the name by Tata Motors. Tata is the rights holder of the Safari name when it comes to automotive applications and uses it on a mid-size SUV sold in India.
According to Krickelberg, Porsche also needed permission for the Dakar name, as its rights for anything automotive related belong to the Amaury Sport Organization, the organizer of the Dakar Rally. This time a deal could be made.
The Safari name comes from the East African Safari Rallies in which Porsches were entered during the 1970s. The name has been associated with rugged 911s ever since the 1978 rally in which a 911 SC Group 4 racer was entered by Swedish rally champion Björn Waldegård, and in recent years some companies building rugged versions of old 911s have referred to the cars as 911 Safaris.
Similarly, the Dakar name is a nod to Porsche’s participation in the Dakar Rally, particularly Porsche’s victory in its first attempt back in 1984 using a 911-based 953 rally car. It was the first time a 911 had been fitted with all-wheel drive.
In his interview with Edmunds, Krickelberg revealed that his team was ready to launch a rugged 911 in 2016, when the previous 991 generation of the 911 was still in production. Porsche started investigating the idea as early as 2012 and built a concept based on the 991 generation, dubbed the 911 Vision Safari.
According to Krickelberg, the sales team didn’t think the project would be profitable. For the current 992 generation of the 911, the sales team were convinced after they decided to cut back on development costs and boost production from an original plan of 2,000 cars to 2,500 cars.
Should the program prove popular, there could be more rugged 911s, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said last month in an interview.
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