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Porsche to build Cajun in Leipzig

Downsized: Porsche's Cajun will join its bigger Cayenne sibling (seen left) in the German manufacturer's line-up in 2013.

Smaller Porsche SUV just two years away as Cajun confirmed alongside Cayenne

17 Mar 2011

PORSCHE has confirmed it will start building a new factory at Leipzig this year to produce its all-new Cajun SUV, which is now expected to hit showrooms worldwide – including in Australia – within two years.

The German luxury car-maker announced it would create more than 1000 new jobs by establishing a fully fledged production plant for the Cajun at Leipzig, where assembly of the larger Cayenne SUV and Panamera sedan already takes place.

While bodies for the Cayenne and, since 2009, the Panamera are produced by Volkswagen in Hanover, the expanded Leipzig facility will comprise body assembly lines and a paint shop for the Cajun, making Porsche’s factory in the Saxony region of Germany a full-service production site.

Porsche has not announced a production timetable for left- and right-hand drive versions of the Cajun but it is understood the new mid-sized luxury SUV will be launched globally either late next year or in early 2013.

“With the efficient and agile ‘Cajun’, Porsche extends its SUV segment which is in high demand all over the world,” said Porsche yesterday.

“In addition to the new generation of the Cayenne which has clearly managed to strengthen its market position as one of the most successful sporting all-wheel drive vehicles in the premium segment, the lightweight and refined handling ‘Cajun’ – so typical of a Porsche – will create further momentum.

“As a desirable entry model, it is expected to pave the way for new, younger customers to enter the world of Porsche, in addition to the Boxster, the market leader among two-seat mid-engined sportscars.”

Porsche has already stated the Cajun – based on sister company Audi’s Q5, which is Australia’s top-selling luxury SUV so far this year – will come with traditional Porsche hallmarks “ light weight, ease of handling and agility”.

25 center imageFrom top: Audi Q5, Volkswagen BlueSport, Porsche Panamera.

Porsche said that, subject to approval by local authorities, it will begin construction of the new Cajun plant at its 400-hectare Leipzig facility later this year, creating more than 1000 direct jobs in Saxony, at its Zuffenhausen HQ and engine plant in Stuttgart and at its Weissach R&D operations.

“During the production of the Cayenne and the Panamera, our Leipzig plant has impressively proved that it can produce premium vehicles of highest quality,” said Mr Muller yesterday.

“The decision in favour of this location is proof of our trust in the skills and qualifications of our Leipzig associates, and at the same time another contribution to the economic advancement of the region.”

Porsche has invested around 280 million euro ($A376m) at Leipzig since 2002.

“We had tough but fair negotiations,” said the chairman of Porsche’s group works council, Uwe Hück, who also stressed the need for expansion at Zuffenhausen.

“The employees’ representatives have always been convinced that it is worthwhile to make the ‘Cajun’ at our Saxony plant. At the end of the day, the high flexibility and productivity of our colleagues has convinced the management board and the supervisory board to produce the ‘Cajun’ in Leipzig.

“We are therefore very happy that the supervisory board authorised the board of management to plan the expansion of the Leipzig plant and turn it into a fully-fledged factory.

“The production of the Cajun is a very good sign for Leipzig. However, we cannot rest now but have to start talks about a further expansion of the Zuffenhausen plant in order to adapt our parent plant to future growth, too.”

The Porsches board confirmed production of the Cajun – a working title revealed by Volkswagen Group CEO Dr Martin Winterkorn last September – on November 30, ending speculation of a sub-Cayenne crossover dating back to 2007, when Porsche registered ‘Roxster’ trademark.

Along with an entry-level mid-engined compact sportscar based on Volkswagen’s BlueSport concept, which is yet to be confirmed for production but would be positioned below the Boxster convertible and Cayman coupe, the Cajun is designed to attract a new, younger audience for Porsche in its mid-term drive to lift annual sales to 150,000 under Volkswagen ownership.

Porsche AG chairman Matthias Muller said at last November’s Los Angeles motor show that a BlueSport-based Porsche sportscar would be shown for the first time in production-ready form once his company was “convinced about the project”.

European reports suggest the as-yet-unnamed sportscar could be introduced in a similar timeframe to the Cajun – by early 2013 following a global motor show debut next year.

Porsche’s sixth model line - following the Boxster/Cayman, 911, Cayenne, Panamera, Cajun and upcoming 918 plug-in hybrid supercar – would be powered by naturally aspirated and turbocharged versions of a new four-cylinder boxer engine.

Recent European reports suggest Volkswagen has also formulated a ‘future-proof’ plan to power a number of Alfa Romeo models – should the German giant ever succeed in wresting the Italian sportscar brand from the Fiat group - with its new boxer four, greatly reducing its cost by increasing the scale of production.

Potentially, Porsche’s new flat-four could also act as an engine-generator in a range of hybrid vehicles. In October, Porsche vowed to produce a hybrid version of every model in its range.

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