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Sub-Boxster Porsche roadster project on hold

Donor: The small Porsche roadster was to be based on the VW Bluesport concept.

Porsche shelves sub-Boxster roadster plans but warms to Ferrari 458 challenger

Porsche logo13 Feb 2012

By JAMES STANFORD

PORSCHE has shelved plans for a compact roadster as the European economic uncertainty bites into its future plans.

While the company is pressing on with plans for the Cajun compact SUV and is advancing development of a super sportscar that would take on the Ferrari 458, it has decided against building a small roadster that would have slotted in below the Boxster as the most affordable Porsche yet.

The compact sportscar was to have shared its underpinnings with a Volkswagen roadster, which was previewed with the Bluesport concept at the Detroit Motor Show in 2009. It has reportedly been developed with the idea to sell it as a VW, a Porsche and an Audi.

It is not clear whether VW and Audi plan to continue with the Bluesport model without Porsche.

Porsche board member and sales and marketing chief Bernhard Maier said a closer look at the market led the company to pause plans for the compact roadster. He says the plan has not officially been killed off, but is not progressing.

“It probably would not be the right time to develop a car like this,” Mr Maier said.

 center imageLeft: Porsche board member and sales and marketing chief Bernhard Maier. Below: The new Boxster.



“We still have the ideas, we are still going to be creative, we want to be in more segments that are interesting for Porsche in the future, until then we first have to accomplish our product ideas that are already decided, bring them to market.

“(We) always check possibilities, what segments we can go (into), we will not stop to do that.

“For the moment, I only can say that we have not taken a decision.”

Mr Maier said Porsche has plenty of other projects to work on.

“The 911 is the symbol for our product offensive, which will be followed now by the Boxster and the Cayman.

“We have already decided to bring a new product in the new ‘B’ SUV segment, which still has the working title of Cajun, and this will be in the market towards the end of 2013. So we have all our hands full.”

Mr Mayer sounded more optimistic when it came to discussing a new 458 competitor that would sit below the upcoming range-topping 918 Spyder supercar, which will be produced in low numbers.

“If you look at it from a brand perspective, I think a product between a 911 and a 918 Spyder is more likely to come, but that depends on the trends overall and the question of which is the best business case for Porsche and what our customers want from us,” Maier said.

“If all of these are playing together then this is a good basis for developing a new car which meets the requirements of our customers and the requirements of the society.”

Porsche is confident it will grow its sales in Europe this year, despite the financial uncertainty that is affecting several economies.

“Some countries in Europe have some severe problems, but it is not the entire of Europe. If you talk about Germany, you have to say we are in pretty good position,” said Mr Maier.

“Germany is the motor, the engine of Europe. Without Germany we see some corrections that are necessary in Europe, but in total I suppose that we will grow in Europe this year.”

One of the reasons Mr Maier is confident about increasing Porsche sales is the freshness of its range, which he says is the youngest in the 63-year history of Porsche with the recent launch of the new 911 and the new Boxster coming in April.

The US is still Porsche’s largest market, with 29,000 sales last year, and Mr Maier is expecting this number to grow as small signs of economic recovery emerge.

China is tipped to challenge the US as the company’s largest market this year, which means it is not so dependent on Europe or the US for its volume.

“We are facing an increasing fragmentation of markets, we see an increase in a segmentation of customers, but as we spread our relationships and our collaboration with China, Asia and America, we have reduced our dependence on North America and western part of Europe.

“In China, we have already achieved more than 24,000 cars last year. If you remember we started our business in China just 10 years ago with about 200 cars, this is a really good development.”

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