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Porsche chief confirms ‘baby Boxster’ is on hold

On hold: Porsche appears to have shelved plans to add a small roadster to its line-up, to sit below the Boxster (pictured).

Concerns over brand perception halts development of rumoured Porsche small roadster

Porsche logo15 May 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

PORSCHE has confirmed reports it has postponed development of a new entry-level Roadster to slot into its range beneath the Boxster.

The project had been thrown into doubt earlier this year when Volkswagen, Porsche’s parent company and development partner on the roadster project, said it had yet to lock in a business case for its own take on the car, which it previewed as the Concept BlueSport at the 2009 Detroit motor show.

Now Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller has told German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung that the introduction of such a car to the Porsche range could potentially dilute the brand and disillusion traditional customers.

“Porsche lives primarily from its brand,” he said. “It is the most important reason to buy a Porsche.

“We must ensure that the brand remains what it is, namely highly desirable (and) premium.

“If we were to offer a car that would be positioned below the Boxster, we would be talking to a completely new customer group. If we lose the established Porsche customers, we would not do the brand any favours.”

Mr Mueller said that, while he was personally excited by the prospect of a ‘baby Boxster’, he was not convinced by the business case for the car, and the company would be better off pursuing “other ideas for products without the risk”.

He cited a potential “high-performance sportscar” priced between the 911 and forthcoming 918 hybrid ‘hypercar’ as one less-risky example, although whether this would be a new variant of the iconic 911 or an all-new model remains unclear.

25 center imageFrom top: Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller and Volkswagen Bluesport concept.

The idea of a compact Roadster is not completely off the table, however, as Mr Mueller did not categorically rule out revisiting the project further down the track.

Mr Mueller also played down widespread reports that Porsche was developing a new premium passenger car to slot beneath the Panamera sedan, questioning where it would sit within the wider Volkswagen Group.

The new model, said to be codenamed Pajun (for Panamera Junior), was reported to be a potential mid-size rival for the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

“We must ask ourselves whether it would make sense right now to bring a little Panamera to the market,” said Mr Mueller.

However, he said the door remained open to revisit the idea in “five to six years”.

Porsche will expand its range to five lines in 2013 when it launches the Macan – an SUV that will sit beneath the big-selling Cayenne in the Stuttgart company’s range.

Mr Mueller said the Audi Q5-based Macan will be a major plank in Porsche’s quest to double global sales to 200,000 units by 2018, along with a further expansion into growth markets such as China.

He said that, despite the projected sales growth, Porsche would remain “a niche player, a small business” that is more interested in “upholding the quality of our brand and products” and retaining its high operating margins.

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