How the company became an SUV manufacturer

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For generations, Porsche has been known by its loyal fans as a brand with exquisite design and engineering sports cars.

Special vehicles such as the small but powerful 911 sports coupe have been critical to their identity.

But in recent years, the luxury brand of the Volkswagen Group has become a brand of sport utility vehicles with lower prices and higher sales.

Yes, Porsche still sells cars, but they have left the SUV behind in terms of sales.

In 2019, SUVs accounted for more than two thirds of Porsche’s sales in the U.S. In the US, compared to less than a third in 2010. The brand’s Macan SUV starts at $ 50,900, while the less expensive version of its Cayenne SUV is $ 66,800. Both are significantly cheaper than 911, which has an initial price of $ 97,400. The brand’s sports cars are priced higher in large part due to their premium materials, solid propulsion systems and design.

In comparison, conventional SUVs like the Chevrolet Equinox and the Ford Edge have starting prices of $ 23,800 and $ 31,100, respectively.

Porsche’s transition from most cars to most SUVs has been a textbook example of how to capitalize on the nation’s SUV boom without alienating enthusiastic customers who love ultra-fast and ultra-luxurious sports cars , including the Porsche Boxster and Panamera. The change has also boosted Porsche’s total sales, which have more than doubled from 29,023 vehicles in 2011 to 61,568 in 2019.

But there was never a guarantee of success.

“When we published the plan that Porsche would develop and sell an SUV, especially the central fan base, they couldn’t believe it,” Klaus Zellmer, CEO of Porsche Cars North America, said in an interview. “They say:” That is no longer my brand. “So it is difficult. You have to convince people.”

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Consider them convinced.

In 2019, Porsche had its best year of SUV sales. Total brand SUV sales increased 22% from 2018 to 41,668.

The first and second best-selling Porsche vehicles in 2019 were SUVs by far. The Macan was number 1 with sales of 22,667 vehicles, while the Cayenne was number 2 with sales of 19,001. The brand’s best-selling car in 2019 was 911 with 9,265 vehicles sold.

This photo provided by Porsche shows the Porsche Cayenne 2019 that was shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show 2017. Fully redesigned for the 2019 model year, the new Cayenne features a lighter chassis, more powerful engines and a revised interior. (Courtesy of Porsche Cars North America Inc. through AP)

Baltimore resident Mia Walsh drives a Porsche Cayman at the racecourse for fun. But his family vehicle, the Cayenne, has adapted perfectly as a spacious but sporty vehicle to run to the Sam’s Club and travel around the city with his children. She is in her third Cayenne.

“He can be attracted to the Porsche brand with a 911 sports car and then his life progresses and now he has a family and a wife and children, and he wants to continue with the quality of the Porsche brand and the power of the Porsche brand, so you migrate to a SUV, “said Walsh.

In front of the curve

Unlike major brands like Hyundai and Kia, which focused on cars and had to catch up with SUVs as passenger car sales plummeted in recent years, Porsche was at the forefront.

When the company launched its first SUV, the Cayenne, in 2003, there were “many handshakes and arms raised on how the brand had lost its way and sold its soul and was never going to be the same,” said Karl Brauer. Executive editor of Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader of Cox Automotive.

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