Posted in: Cars,
by Gregg Laskoski on Nov 14, 2013 06:00 AM
The SUV market has a lot of great vehicles to offer. Some folks might go for the affordable brands, and some may look for luxury... but believe it or not, Porsche, the definitive sports car brand worldwide is going all out on SUVs.
That's right. Porsche is reaching out to soccer moms. This month Porsche is launching a new compact sport-utility vehicle that promises to put the German sports-car maker on the fast track to pass a symbolic milestone in the U.S.—selling more SUVs than its high-performance racing cars, the Wall St. Journal reports.
Called the Macan, the sleek SUV features a wide front grille, a steeply sloped rear roof line and a brawny six-cylinder engine. It is due to be unveiled Nov. 20 at the Los Angeles Auto Show and will be available at U.S. dealers next spring at a starting price of more than $40,000, roughly one-quarter less than the base price for the larger Cayenne SUV. That price will make the Macan one of the most affordable models Porsche offers, and possibly its top-seller.
The Macan is a key step in Porsche's drive to expand the reach of its brand well beyond the costly and high-performance sports-car niche. The company, owned by Volkswagen AG, is aiming for world-wide sales of more than 200,000 vehicles a year by 2018. That would be a 40% jump from the 141,000 it sold in 2012.
In the U.S., its largest market, Porsche is on track to sell more than 40,000 cars this year. To support its U.S. growth, Porsche is spending more than $120 million to open a test track and conference facility at its new headquarters outside of Atlanta, and a second "Experience Center" in Carson, Calif., near Los Angeles.
Both are places where owners and prospective customers can drive Porsches at the high speeds, of 100 miles an hour or more, to get a sense of their power without running afoul of traffic laws. For SUV drivers, there will be off-road courses. The company also is building a large showroom in Manhattan to serve consumers in New York.
"It absolutely could be the volume model," said Mike Sullivan, owner of Pacific Porsche in Torrance, Calif. The new SUV, he added, should appeal to affluent young buyers who still can't afford a $75,000 Cayenne or a $100,000 911 sports car. The Macan also could give Porsche new appeal to women.
With the Macan, WSJ's Neal Boudette says Porsche is doubling down on a bet that it can maintain the exclusive image of its 911 sports cars while simultaneously broadening its appeal to consumers who are merely upper middle class.
Boudette says the Macan will compete in a sizable and growing part of the automobile market. Americans buy more than 200,000 compact luxury SUVs a year. But the competition is daunting. Last year's U.S. sales of BMW's X3 SUVs alone—35,173 vehicles—exceeded Porsche's total sales of 35,043 cars and SUVs.
Still, dealers feel confident. "If I get a vehicle I can sell for $40,000, that gets a lot of people who have always wanted a Porsche," said Steve Shaheen, general manager of Okemos Auto Collection, a Porsche-BMW-Mercedes-Benz dealership in Okemos, Mich.
What do you think? Are you interested?