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Porsche to develop Audis, Bentleys and Lambos

Purity retained: Future 911s looked likely to sit on a VW-developed underpinnings but now Porsche will be developing platforms for VW.

VW confirms Porsche’s starring role in developing future group sports and large cars

10 Dec 2010

PORSCHE-developed Bentleys and Audi and Lamborghini sportscars will be the legacy of Volkswagen’s controversial take-over of the hallowed German brand.

Although no official announcement has been made, Porsche – not Audi - has finally been confirmed to play a starring role as the 10th brand within Europe’s largest car-maker, which took effective control of Porsche in August.

The news came direct from Volkswagen and Porsche CEO Dr Martin Winterkorn in a door-stop interview before his address at a general shareholders’ meeting in Stuttgart on November 30 – a day after Porsche announced it will release an entry-level luxury SUV to be positioned below the Cayenne, most likely based on the Audi Q5 and dubbed the Cajun.

The long-awaited confirmation of Porsche’s job description within Volkswagen also came a week after Porsche announced it will invest around €150 million ($A204m) in a high-tech wind tunnel, a state-of-the-art design centre and an electronics integration centre at its Weissach development base.

 center imageFrom top: Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayman, Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet, Porsche Panamera, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen BlueSport concept.

The centre will gain around 100 additional engineers in its first stage of expansion, said Porsche R&D chief Wolfgang Durheimer, the last remaining pre-VW board member who on November 29 was announced as the new boss of super-luxury Volkswagen brand Bentley.

Professor Winterkorn, who is now also the CEO of Porsche SE, implored shareholders to approve his board’s financial investment in future models, saying they had been instrumental in creating two of the “strongest and most sustainable automobile manufacturers in the world”, which were about to formally join forces.

“We ask you to vote for the executive and supervisory boards’ proposed capital increase, so that we can put together the foundation for a promising future,” he said.

GoAuto has confirmed reports that Prof Winterkorn told journalists ahead of the general meeting that VW had decided Porsche will take the lead in developing sportscars and large luxury sedans for the entire VW group.

While the news will come as a relief to Porsche, which faced the prospect of a VW-developed sportscar architecture underpinning key models like the 911, it also means the Audi engineers who had lobbied hard for the prestigious VW development function will effectively be sidelined by Porsche.

According to Automotive News Europe, under VW’s new “modular toolkit” platform sharing strategy Porsche will develop a so-called “modular standard matrix” that will underpin the next-generation Porsche Panamera and future Bentley models, as well as being responsible for front-mid-engined and rear-mid-engined sportscars for Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini.

Audi, on the other hand, will continue to be responsible for developing VW’s “modular longitudinal matrix”, which was introduced in 2007 and forms the basis of models like the Audi A4, A5 and Q5 and, said Prof Winterkorn, will eventually underpin up to 15 different models in the mid-term.

Meantime, the VW brand will continue to develop its “modular transverse matrix”, which will debut on the next Audi A3 in 2012 and will eventually underpin about 40 models and six million vehicles annually, including VW’s next Golf.

Volkswagen says its ambitious new platform sharing arrangement will reduce development, procurement and production costs by 20 per cent and engineering hours by 30 per cent, allowing increased production flexibility to create more model variants at lower cost as part of its drive to dethrone Toyota as the world’s biggest and most profitable car-maker by 2018.

While Porsche confirmed production of its sixth model line – the mid-size Cajun SUV – a week ago, a seventh model is also likely to be publicly unveiled in 2012 before going on sale in 2013, in the form of an entry-level sportscar to sit below the Boxster.

As we’ve reported, Porsche CEO Matthias Muller told journalists at last month’s Los Angeles motor show that an all-new compact mid-engined sportscar based on VW’s BlueSport concept is under development.

The all-new compact sportscar will join the Boxster/Cayman, 911, Panamera, Cayenne, Cajun and upcoming 918 plug-in hybrid supercar, which has also been confirmed for (low volume) production within four years.

An image of a clay model that could preview the all-new Porsche was released alongside its Weissach expansion announcement in November, and Porsche is also believed to be working on two-door coupe and convertible derivatives of the four-door Panamera grand tourer.

“We have a model based on the BlueSport, but we are not yet ready to show it,” said Mr Muller in November. “When we are convinced about the project, we will be ready to show it. The first time you see it, it will be as a production-ready car.”

In October, Porsche vowed to produce a hybrid version of every model in its range, following the release of this year’s pioneering Cayenne S Hybrid, next year’s Panamera S Hybrid and a petrol-electric version of the Cajun, most likely based on the Audi Q5 Hybrid that has been confirmed for Australian release.

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