Porsche Counts on Panamera and Cayenne Sales, Brand Faithful Shudder

Much to the chagrin of Porsche traditionalists, the German sports car manufacturer has expanded its portfolio to include both SUVs and sedans. Although purists deride such offerings, both the Cayenne and Panamera, respectfully, have become two of Porsche’s best-selling models, and Detlev von Platen, CEO of Porsche Cars North America, says both vehicles are key to Porsche’s financial well-being.

Both vehicles are controversial, but the Cayenne and Panamera will likely prove to be beneficial to the company’s bottom line. Although it is nearly eight years old, Porsche’s Cayenne SUV has outsold its sports car siblings in the U.S. thus far in 2010. We imagine the all-new model, due to arrive in showrooms later this year, will only bolster those figures.

The Panamera sedan is a relative newcomer to the Porsche lineup, but it’s already proving popular, especially in the United States. From October 2009 through March of 2010, over 2700 Panameras have been sold around the world, but nearly 2200 went to American customers in 2010 alone. Better yet, nearly 80 percent of Panamera buyers were conquests from other manufacturers -- an impressive feat, considering the high-end luxury segment can be a little cutthroat.

“We now have 11 to 12 percent of the luxury sedan segment, and we expect to improve our market share and volume,” von Platen told Automotive News. “We’ll sell 20,000 Panameras worldwide, and we expect our sales in the United States to be 5000 to 6000 cars a year.”

Porsche has gained an impressive foothold in the luxury sedan segment, a segment it just began playing in. For the time being, the company only offers high-power V-8 versions of the Panamera (the S and Turbo, respectively), but a more fuel-efficient, less-expensive V-6 model is due in June, while a hybrid model will launch next year.

Both of those models -- coupled with the new Cayenne Hybrid -- will play a large part in Porsche’s compliance with the U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules. Porsche must meet a 41-mpg CAFE average, but thanks to its low production volumes, the company was given a year’s extension, meaning it must hit that figure by 2017. In order to meet that standard, Porsche is eying different technologies, and contemplating smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles that could possibly ride on platforms shared with its corporate parent, Volkswagen.

“We are looking at all kinds of possibilities for the future, and this is something we are also considering. We are not making are plans public at the moment,” he said in regards to a smaller SUV. “When we talk about platform development, we are in discussion with VW at the moment on sharing some platforms in the future between some VW brands and Porsche.”

Although Porsche will continue to build incredible sports cars, it’s clear that von Platen believe it needs to compete in other segments -- like the luxury SUV and sedan -- in order to stay alive. If something like the Cayenne is key to Porsche producing new vehicles like the 911 GT2 RS, consider this a necessary evil.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required), Porsche

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