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Burnin' for You: Porsche Cajun gets the green light for production

Mon, 29 Nov 2010 00:00:00 -0800

The Cajun is a go.

Porsche will continue to pepper the SUV market with a new entry below the successful Cayenne, and the Cajun is expected to launch in North America in 2013.

Porsche's supervisory board instructed the company to develop plans for production in a meeting on Monday.

The Cajun is a “working title,” and Porsche wants the SUV to attract new and younger customers to its fold. It will take aim at the Audi Q5 and offerings from BMW, including an expected X4. The Porsche will likely borrow Audi's 3.0-liter supercharged, direct-injection six-cylinder engine, and diesel and hybrid variants are also planned, (“Face-Off,” AW, Nov. 8, 2010).

The Cajun has been one of the worst-kept secrets in the car industry, and its formal approval paves the way for Porsche to enter one of the most important and growing segments in the industry. It's still unclear whether the new vehicle will have two or four doors, though four-wheel drive is likely.

Porsche is planning an aggressive product blitz as part of plans to increase its global sales. But new CEO Matthias Muller has been adamant that the company will remain true to its roots and not simply add vehicles for volume.

“We will have solutions that fit Porsche,” he said at the Paris motor show in October.

The Cajun is the second significant Porsche to get board approval to proceed, following the striking 918 Spyder which was revealed at the Geneva motor show.

Porsche is aiming to sell 150,000 vehicles around the world, up dramatically from 81,000 in its most recent fiscal year. The company is a division of Volkswagen AG, which has designs on passing Toyota and General Motors for the title of world's largest automaker.

Ed Kim, director of industry analysis for AutoPacific, says the Cajun will help Porsche meet CAFE regulations in the United States and satisfy Europeans thirst for smaller rides.

"The segment has growing popularity in the U.S. too, so despite US consumers not necessarily asking for a small Porsche crossover, the Cajun will undoubtedly find buyers," he said. "It will be incumbent on Porsche though to make sure such a vehicle, which could be perceived as low end, does not damage the Porsche brand. Small does not necessarily mean downmarket in Europe, but it does have that connotation here."

By Greg Migliore