February 11, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Porsche to pass 200,000 in sales in 2015 on demand for Macan SUV

Matthias Mueller, CEO of German automobile maker Porsche, shows off its new Macan, a subcompact SUV, at a revamped plant in Leipzig, Germany. The Macan goes on sale in April. (Jan Woitas / Getty Images)

Porsche AG Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller said the high-end automaker will exceed 200,000 in annual deliveries in 2015, three years earlier than first targeted, because of demand for the Macan compact sport-utility vehicle going on sale later this year.

“We’re transferring the genes of the Porsche brand into a new market segment,” Mueller said in a speech Tuesday to mark the start of Macan production in Leipzig, Germany. “Porsche will remain a manufacturer of very exclusive premium cars.”

Porsche is ready to boost annual Macan production beyond the 50,000 currently being planned should demand outstrip supply, Mueller said. Porsche has spent 500 million euros ($684 million) to expand the Leipzig factory.

Vying for customers with the top versions of BMW AG’s X3, Mercedes GLK and the Range Rover Evoque, the compact model will probably emerge as Porsche’s most popular model next year. SUVs are due to account for a majority of sales, according to IHS Automotive estimates. Porsche, owned by Volkswagen AG, expects robust growth in premium SUV sales in the next decade and is considering a GTS performance version of the Macan, Mueller said.

“It’s probably the right car for the right time,” said Ian Fletcher, a London-based IHS analyst. Porsche may already pass the 200,000 mark this year on sales of more than 45,000 Macans, Fletscher estimated.

Together with the Cayenne, which is 6.5 inches longer than the Macan and the brand’s current best seller, SUVs are forecast to account for 64 percent of Porsche sales next year, while the share of sports cars will drop to 24 percent of deliveries, according to IHS. Sports cars accounted for the majority of Porsche sales before the introduction of the Panamera four-door coupe in 2009.

Porsche’s $845,000 918 Spyder hybrid, unveiled at the International Auto Show in Frankfurt in September, can reach 62 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and gets the equivalent of about 72 miles per gallon, based on European fuel-economy data. That tops the 50 mpg of Toyota Motor Corp.’s basic Prius hybrid.

“Cars like the 918 help Porsche maintain its edge as a sports-car maker while pursuing further expansion in the SUV segment with the Macan,” Frank Schwope, a Hanover-based analyst at NordLB, said.

Porsche’s deliveries rose 15 percent to a record 162,145 vehicles in 2013 as demand for the Boxster and Cayman models more than doubled. Monthly sales growth slowed to 1.4 percent in January.

Demand is set to gain traction in the second half as Porsche adds the Macan to its line-up. The model goes on sale on April 5 in Germany. At a starting price of 57,930 euros for the 340-horsepower Macan S version, it’s about 25 percent cheaper than a comparably equipped Cayenne SUV.

“There will be some cannibalizing effects on the Cayenne, because the Macan’s price tag is more accessible and it’s more practical in traffic due to its compact size,” Schwope said. Between 10 percent and 20 percent of current Cayenne buyers might switch to the Macan, Mueller said.

Mueller raised the possibility in 2012 of adding a $250,000 sports car to challenge Ferrari. An initial decision on a new model line could be made by the middle of this year, he said.

“We’ve got a number of different options and proposals to choose from,” Mueller said.