The Porsche chief executive Matthias Mueller says the high-end car maker will exceed 200,000 in annual deliveries in 2015, three years earlier than first targeted, on demand for the Macan compact sport-utility vehicle going on sale later this year.
“We’re transferring the genes of the Porsche brand into a new market segment,” Mr Mueller said in a speech this week to mark the start of Macan production in Leipzig, Germany. “Porsche will remain a manufacturer of very exclusive premium cars.”
Porsche is ready to boost annual Macan production beyond the 50,000 currently being planned should demand outstrip supply, Mr Mueller said. Porsche has spent €500 million (Dh2.5 billion) to expand the Leipzig factory.
Vying for customers with the top versions of BMW’s X3, Daimler’s Mercedes GLK and the Range Rover Evoque, the compact model will probably emerge as Porsche’s most popular next year. The 4x4s are due to account for a majority of sales, according to IHS Automotive estimates. Porsche, owned by Volkswagen, expects robust growth in premium 4x4 sales in the next decade and is considering a GTS performance version of the Macan, Mr Mueller says.
“It’s probably the right car for the right time,” says Ian Fletcher, a London-based IHS analyst. Porsche may already pass the 200,000 mark this year on sales of more than 45,000 Macans, he estimates.
VW stock has climbed 7 per cent in the past year, valuing the German car maker at €87.2bn.
Together with the Cayenne, which is 16.5cm longer than the Macan and the brand’s current best seller, 4x4s are forecast to account for 64 per cent of Porsche sales next year, while the share of sports cars will drop to 24 per cent of deliveries, according to IHS.
Sports cars accounted for the majority of Porsche sales before the introduction of the Panamera four-door coupe in 2009.
Porsche’s US$845,000 918 Spyder hybrid, unveiled at the International Auto Show in Frankfurt in September, can reach 100km per hour in 2.8 seconds and gets the equivalent of about 72 miles per gallon (mpg), based on European fuel-economy data. That tops the 50 mpg of Toyota’s basic Prius hybrid.
“Cars like the 918 help Porsche maintain its edge as a sports-car maker while pursuing further expansion in the SUV segment with the Macan,” says Frank Schwope, a Hanover-based analyst at NordLB.
Porsche’s deliveries rose 15 per cent to a record 162,145 vehicles last year as demand for the Boxster and Cayman models more than doubled. Monthly sales growth slowed to 1.4 percent in January.
Demand is set to gain traction in the second half as Porsche adds the Macan to its line-up. The model goes on sale on April 5 in Germany. At a starting price of €57,930 for the 340-horsepower Macan S version, it is about 25 per cent cheaper than a comparably equipped Cayenne 4x4.
Mr Mueller raised the possibility in 2012 of adding a $250,000 sports car to challenge Fiat’s Ferrari brand once the Macan enters the Porsche fleet.
An initial decision on a new model could be made by the middle of this year, he said this week.
“We’ve got a number of options and proposals to choose from.”