Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Porsche said it will begin selling Macan compact SUVs and delivering a $2.2 million supercar in China next year as part of its expansion plans in the world’s largest automobile market.
Porsche, which counts the Cayenne sport utility vehicle as its best seller in China, will build on that success with the Macan, whose sales will begin in the second half of next year, Helmut Broeker, head of China operations, said in a Jan. 18 interview. The carmaker also plans to double its number of dealerships in the country to 95 in 2014 from 49 now, he said.
“The Macan will have a significant volume impact,” said Broeker, who was attending a dealership opening in the eastern China city of Nantong. “I’m very confident that when this car has been fully launched in the full year, China will be the number one market.”
The new products are part of Porsche’s plans to make China the company’s biggest market by 2014. Porsche has benefited from a surge in demand for SUVs -- the fastest-growing segment in China’s auto market -- with the Cayenne accounting for about 65 percent of the company’s deliveries in the country.
“The fact that they’re bringing a smaller version of the Cayenne SUV model is something that specifically in China will work quite well,” said Klaus Paur, the Shanghai-based global head of automotive coverage at research firm Ipsos. “It is catering to a segment that is fast growing. It is also part of a trend of luxury brands making their cars more accessible to the market.”
Porsche is taking orders for the 918 Spyder hybrid supercar, the first of which will be delivered to buyers in the first half of next year, Broeker said, declining to give sales figures for the automaker’s most expensive model. The car will cost 13.4 million yuan ($2.2 million) in China when including import and consumption taxes, according to the company.
“The 918 Spyder of course is a great product for China,” he said. “There’s quite a lot of interest in China. But I don’t think you will see many cars on the road.”
For this year, Porsche will open about 20 dealerships in cities including Beijing, Shenzhen, Foshan and Chengdu, Broeker said. The China head wants sales this year to be “few cars” above levels in 2012, when deliveries rose 28 percent to a record 31,205 units, he said, declining to be more specific.
The maker of the 911 sports car will also start selling new editions of the four-door Panamera and Cayman this year. The Panamera is Porsche’s second-best selling model in China after the Cayenne with deliveries at about 9,000 units last year, according to Broeker.
The automaker has no plans to follow other foreign automakers in manufacturing vehicles in China to avoid import duties as customers expect their Porsches to be engineered and made in Germany, he said.
To promote its sports car image in China, the company will open a 135-million yuan handling circuit and training center in Shanghai in 2014, next to the city’s Formula One racetrack, according to the company.
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