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Porsche considers a sedan model

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(09:01 Sep. 15, 2003)

Porsche mulls a sedan model positioned below automaker's current range

By DIANA T. KURYLKO | Automotive News

FRANKFURT — Porsche AG — a name synonymous with high-priced, high-performance vehicles — is considering a downshift into more mainstream sedan segments for its next model range.

The so-called fourth Porsche now under study by the German luxury sports-car maker likely will be positioned well below the company’s current range, CEO Wendelin Wiedeking disclosed at the Frankfurt auto show last week.

“We are thinking about a fourth model range, and we have good ideas,†he said. “But if the car we have in mind comes to the market, we will have fewer friends than we have today,†he joked, a reference to the competition the car would pose to other automakers.

He would not disclose the proposed vehicle’s body style.

Industry sources have said that Porsche has been studying a four-passenger coupe, code-named E2A, and a four-door sedan, code-named E2B.

Wiedeking also said Porsche will increase production of the Cayenne SUV by an undisclosed amount next year in the face of higher-than-expected demand. The company has capacity to build 25,000 Cayennes a year at its plant in Leipzig, Germany, but sold 20,603 in its first eight months on the market.

“It seems that existing capacity is too low,†he said.

The size of the production increase will be announced at year end, Wiedeking said.

Unlike the 911 and Boxster, the Cayenne derives far less than half its worldwide sales from the U.S. market. Demand for the Cayenne has been high in the Mideast, Asia and Eastern Europe, Wiedeking said.

U.S. sales of the Cayenne through August totaled 7,514, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

The SUV, Porsche’s first, is priced at $56,665, including destination fees in the United States. A turbo model stickers for $89,665.

Porsche will introduce an entry-level Cayenne equipped with a

250- hp Volkswagen V-6 engine next year, but Wiedeking dismissed speculation that potential buyers would shun the model because it won’t have a Porsche powerplant.

Two 1970s-era Porsche models, the 914 and 924, were flops in large part because they were built around VW components and powerplants.

“We have spent heavily to improve the VW engine,†Wiedeking said. “It will sell. What is more important will be the price.â€

Wiedeking said Porsche anticipates that the Cayenne V-6 buyer will trade up to the V-8 model or to the turbo, as buyers of Boxsters tend to trade up to 911s.

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