Even in the darkest days of double nickel, the U.S. of A. had been Porsche’s largest market. In Zuffenhausen, they had tried to get to the bottom of a phenomenon that defied German logic: Why buy a Porsche if you can only crawl along at 55 mph? Ever so thankful for the unexpected sales, Porsche abandoned the search for the unknown.
Now, Porsche is looking eastwards for growth. In the Monday edition of Automobilwoche, Porsche’s marketing head Klaus Berning will announce that his employer is looking for double-digit growth in Asia this year. Berning will be quoted as saying that he expects sales in Europe to show “some growth at best” this year, while it would take “quite some time” to return to the levels of before the financial crisis in North America. In other words: Don’t hold your breath.
“Asia” of course is code for “China.” In 2008, China became Porsche’s 3rd largest market, after the U.S.A. and Germany. Last year, Porsche’s sales in the U.S.A. cratered by 40 percent as disposable income and paper profits evaporated. In 2012, Porsche wants to outsell Germany with 16,000 Porsches sold to in China. With double digit growth projection, China will soon be Porsche’s largest market.
And Zuffenhausen will have another conundrum to crack: The speed limit on China’s many highways is 130km/h, which converts to 80 mph. China’s highways are littered with speed traps and automated cameras that dispatch an expensive ticket to the privacy of your home – something the Chinese quickly learned from Europe. So why drive a Porsche in China? As long as the sales grow at double digit rates, Zuffenhausen will be loath to find out.