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Porsche considers North America, China production to grow sales

Mon, 17 Jan 2011 00:00:00 -0800

Porsche may launch production in North America and China as part of a plan to double annual global sales to 200,000 units, CEO Matthias Mueller said.

Mueller said the sports car maker's current German assembly plants in Zuffenhausen, near Stuttgart, and Leipzig, were too small for the brand to reach its ambitious goals.

"We will consider this year whether to start production in Asia or North America," Mueller told the German magazine Focus in an interview published Monday.

Porsche could build its forthcoming Cajun SUV in China in a Volkswagen factory that builds the closely related Audi Q5, the magazine said.

In a separate interview with WirtschaftsWoche magazine, also published Monday, Mueller said building Porsches in North America and China would not break a taboo, since the carmaker had in the past outsourced Boxster production to Valmet contract manufacturers in Finland. "We are OK as long as we can say our cars are 'engineered by Porsche,'" he told the magazine.

U.S. key to growth

Mueller said Porsche sales in the United States, the brand's most important market, have recovered to their pre-crisis level of 2007 and the U.S. market is important to achieving the growth target.

Porsche is being intergrated into Volkswagen as the VW group's 10th brand. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn had set the brand a target of selling 150,000 models a year.

Mueller said he thought the number may be too small. With new models such as the Cajun, which is due in 2013, as well as a possible "baby Porsche" roadster and a targa version of the Cayman, he sees an annual sales potential of 200,000 for the brand by 2018.

Mueller said Porsche would use the former Karmann factory in Osnabrueck, Germany, as an extra production site to build Boxster and Cayman cars. VW took over the Karmann plant on Jan. 1.

More China dealers

In China, Porsche plans to open a customer center and test track in Shanghai near a Formula One race track, Mueller told WirtschaftsWoche. The brand will also expand its Chinese dealer network from 35 dealers to 85, then probably to 100, he said.

VW is merging Porsche into its brand portfolio after VW acquired 49.9 percent of Porsche Automobil Holding SE's carmaking unit when Porsche last year failed in a hostile takeover attempt for VW.

By Paul McVeigh- Automotive News Europe