March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Porsche AG said it’s close to fixing a fault that caused engine fires in a racing version of the 911 sports car in a recall that cast a shadow on the Volkswagen AG division’s growth plans.
“We know the reason and the problem-solving measures,” Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller said today at a press conference near company headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. “We’re testing them.” Porsche plans to announce the technical solution “shortly” and will first inform customers, he said.
Porsche recalled all 785 of the GT3 version of the 911 from the current model year in February after two vehicles caught fire following engine failures. The carmaker took the rare step of requesting that owners stop driving the 137,300-euro ($190,700) car pending repairs. No accidents or injuries were tied to the incidents, it said at the time.
The division forecast today that this year will be “at least” at the 2013 level amid investments to expand U.S. and Chinese sales operations and German production. Operating profit last year rose 6 percent to 2.58 billion euros, generating an 18 percent return on sales. That compares with a group figure of 5.9 percent at Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker.
Cost savings from cooperation with Volkswagen, which gained full control of Porsche in mid-2012, will “get close” to a 1 billion-euro target as soon as this year, Mueller said. Synergies will eventually exceed that amount, Chief Financial Officer Lutz Meschke said.
Investments abroad in 2014 will focus on adding distribution in emerging markets, with 30 new dealerships planned for China by 2015, Porsche said. Spending in the U.S. will total $100 million, it said, without specifying a time frame.
Porsche will invest 300 million euros adding a new engine production line by 2016 as well as offices at its factory in Zuffenhausen, part of a 700 million-euro investment at the site, the company said today, reiterating earlier plans. Porsche is also spending 100 million euros a year at its research center in the Stuttgart suburb of Weissach.
Deliveries rose 15 percent to a record 162,145 cars and sport-utility vehicles. Demand for the Boxster roadster and related Cayman sports car more than doubled last year and the company rolled out fresh variants of the 911.
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