By on May 12, 2012

Good news for armchair brand strategists: Porsche’s race to the bottom (of the price range) has been cancelled. There will be no entry-level roadster below the Boxster, Porsche CEO Matthias Müller told the Stuttgarter Zeitung today. It’s not that there won’t be lots of new customers for the bargain-Porsche. Current customers don’t want their brand to be devalued and debased, Müller says.

“The brand is the main reason to buy a Porsche. That’s why we need to see to it that the brand remains what it is, a desirable premium. If we would offer a car positioned below the Boxster, we would be talking to a completely new target group. If that would lose us the current Porsche customers, then we wouldn’t do our brand a big favor.”

Müller thinks a car positioned between the 911 and the 918 is worth considering, but it is currently not in his plans. Neither is a small Panamera.

Come to think of it, Müller had said something like that many months ago. Apparently, it is worth repeating.

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59 Comments on “Discount Porsche Canceled. Again...”

  • avatar
    Andy D

    When I think of Porsche , it conjures up images of the 356 and the 911. You can get a ~20k$ kit car Porsche-wagen replica of a Speedster. As a former bug enthusiast, all my Porsches are aircooled. But you know what? The Panamerica 4 door styling , has grown on me. Are they gonna come out with a pick up?

  • avatar

    I’ve grown to like the Panamerica as well, It’s actually a pretty good looking sedan. Every time Porsche hints at a true miata fighter they shoot down the idea because Porsche has cache as a truly expensive sports car. If the FR-S/BRZ twins find a good market I find it hard for VW/Porsche not to re-enter it with a 914-like car based on the new Beetle.

    • 0 avatar

      > I’ve grown to like the Panamerica as well

      Because Panamera looks STUNNING.

      Only on some photos, mostly showing its side, it may look incorrectly proportioned. All this disappears in reality. The car is very low, wide, mean, muscular and so different (yes, it is a unique vehicle, and in a much better way that, say, Maserati Quattroporte). It looks like genuine Porsche. Which it is.

      And I don’t get the hate for other-than-911 Porsches. As long as they are best driving cars in their classes (and Panamera and Cayenne are), what’s the problem?

      OK, I got it now. Panamera is
      1) successful
      2) the symbol of commercial success in life of their owners
      so it must have become the hate target by default.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll admit to liking the Panamera too. I just take issue with the way Porsche extended the range. A grand touring four-door sedan? That makes sense as a natural extension. But starting off with the SUV was a blatant cash grab. It may have been wildly profitable, but it also shows how little Porsche values the brand.

      • 0 avatar

        Commercial success? Ugh, can we get past this idiotic argument. I CAN afford a Panamerica if I chose. I CHOOSE not to buy one because it doesn’t fit my lifestyle or really my budget if I want to own two cars that aren’t a decade apart in age. Just because I panned it somewhat doesn’t mean I am some poor shmuck without a dime to my name. I’m making high 5-figure money. I’m close to 6-figures. It doesn’t mean I have to automatically assume everybody who makes less than me is less deserving or the reverse.

        Commercial success is largely subjective and biased. Capitalism is a pyramid and thus we need few at the top and lots at the bottom. So to argue that somehow disliking something on a stylistic point is based on some class hatred is ludicrous, it could be viewed as an excess but to attack it merely on face is just unfounded. If we were to have an adult discussion on economics we could talk about it but since it was a side-swipe attempting to use dog whistles to justify your point I see no reason to move forward.

      • 0 avatar

        They look like a whale turd to me. I like Porsches in general but the Panamera has replaced the 911 in the less than optimal looks department right above the dead last Cayenne. And this from someone who owns a (aircooled) 911.

  • avatar

    In the later years Packards sold well, but the inability to distinguish expensive models from lower-priced models disappeared as all Packards, whether sixes or eights, became virtually alike in styling. Packard’s image as a luxury brand was diluted. So, Packard lost buyers of expensive cars and couldn’t find enough prospects for the lesser models to compensate.

    Packard made several other mistakes after the war that contributed to their failure, but it’s a lesson that Porsche aparently hasn’t forgotten.

    • 0 avatar

      It has always been my understanding that the purchase of Studebaker was what killed Packard.

      • 0 avatar

        Packard was already verging on serious trouble, which is why they picked up Studebaker. The idea was to duplicate Nash/Hudson forming American Motors. Unfortunately, Packard didn’t do enough due-diligence before the purchased.

        Had Packard continued to go it alone, they’d have still died, although the death would have been a bit slower. Possibly they would have lasted into the mid-60’s.

        Go to Ate Up With Motor and catch the multi-part series on the death of Packard. It’s fascinating.

  • avatar

    “Current customers don’t want their brand to be devalued and debased”

    As in, current customers prefer their car to associated with mid life crises orthodontists who buy their P as a display of ostentatious consumption; rather than with efficient means to go fast for people who still have enough arthritis free joints to be able to do just that. Good for them, I guess.

  • avatar

    So the Cayenne, the Panamera, the coming Macan, the stealth grenade motors in the Boxsters, and the finance department’s options trading blowing up the company and causing a sche*ss load of lawsuits, haven’t affected the brand. Okiedokie und es stimmt.

  • avatar

    So how exactly is a Macan keeping the core Porsche values and not devaluing the brand?

    Is being more expensive the only brand value now?

  • avatar

    The real problem is not that a smaller, lighter Porsche would be a cheaper Porsche, it is that a smaller, lighter Porsche would be a better Porsche.

    911s used to be compact cars, but the recent ones have been larger than Corvettes, and, in eclipsing the Corvette in size, have eclipsed the Corvette as the true bloated, fat bald man with a gold chain Viagra machines.

    My old MR2 Spyder has more in common with a 550 than anything that Porsche has made recently.

    If Porsche made a smaller, lighter Boxster powered by the VAG turbo-4 no “poors” would be buying it. Second cars requiring second parking spaces are not for the poor. The “poors” are much more likely to lease or finance the V6 Cayenne, which Porsche has no problem diluting its brand with.

    However, a lot of well off enthusiasts would consider whether a smaller, lighter Boxster powered by the VAG turbo-4 would make a better second car than a Boxster or 911. Which is the real reason Porsche will not build that car. The superiority of the Boxster/Cayman to the 911 is already embarrassing enough.

    Anyone doubting the superiority of the Boxster/Cayman to the 911 can note the lack of a turbo version, unless he or she is naive enough to believe that Porsche lacks the ingenuity to fit the plumbing.

    • 0 avatar

      In total agreement with this. But I also think that people will not pay $45K for a car with BRZ levels of performance.

      • 0 avatar

        Assuming that Porsche could keep the weight of a transverse-engine mid-engine car with the VAG turbo I4 at about 2,500 pounds, which is reasonable given that the similar layout MR2 Spyder was about 2,100 pounds, and that a Miata, with the added weight of a driveshaft and separate differential, is about 2,500 pounds, and assuming that Porsche used the VAG turbo I4 in a 250 hp + state of tune, I don’t think the FR-S/BRZ would be getting anywhere near it. At least unless one of the twins gets forced induction. And with a turbo a BRZ is going to likely outperform a Cayman/Boxster.

        The problem is that a 2,500 pound mid-engine car with a 250 HP+ VAG turbo I4 would offer performance on par, or better than the Boxster/Cayman and any naturally aspirated 911.

        Hopefully if VW is not willing to sell this car a Porsche, it will at least be willing to sell it as a VW and/or Audi.

    • 0 avatar

      Surely your not implying that the car manufacturing arm of the investment bank/hedge fund Porsche knows that the ass engined layout is somewhat suboptimal? If they thought that they would have tried to kill the 911, and artificially handicapped the mid engine cars. Wait, they did just that? Well surely the man behind the 911 family didn’t think it should be killed? Oh he did?! Darn!

      One could argue that, and now I’m leaving the non sports cars out of it, that the 911 is the least authentic Porsche of them all, and that the Cayman is the most authentic Porsche of them all.

  • avatar

    profit & ego.

  • avatar

    Wouldn’t a VW roadster make more sense? Perhaps with a rear-mounted 2.0T? That’s something I might actually buy, provided my current Volkswagen doesn’t live up to its reputation for nightmarish reliability.

    Even a “cheap” Porsche is guaranteed to be unaffordable for average folks. Shoot, even an old 944 can bankrupt you.

    • 0 avatar

      Absolutely it’d make more sense. The 1st gen MR2 used a Corolla drivetrain just as VW could mount the Beetle’s 2.0 turbo behind the front seats on a low to the ground chassis. I’m sure it would be wildly profitable at a $25K base. This would finally be a VW I would own just as the only Toyota I’ve owned was an MR2. By “owning” a VW, I mean lease.

      • 0 avatar

        Isn’t this called an Audi TT (except at +10k)?

        On the VW reputation front: I’ve been lucky with my 1999 Jetta MKIV. First year the model was made and in a new or relatively new Mexico plant and it is still hanging in there at around 145,000 on the original clutch. It did have a catalytic converter replaced under the EPA-forced extended warranty and it has issues but it hasn’t left me stranded.

  • avatar
    Nil Recurring

    Its funny the accountants weren’t worried about devaluing and debasing a brand by jumping head-first into the SUV market. Not only did they devalue and debase the brand by spiffing up a Volkswagen Tourareg (Cayenne) but now they feel the urge to make a cheap SUV based on the Audi Q5 (Macan).

    No, there should be no worries about making an inexpensive sports car that would cater to enthusiasts after the accountants have cornered the market on rich soccer moms.

  • avatar

    I doubt this has much to do with brand values and more with cost structure. If they could build a $35-45K roadster that was better than everything in its class they would do it and it would be good for the brand. However, they can see that their current production costs are way too high to be competitive in this segment. They are rightly worried that they might come off second best to the likes of the Miata and FR-S convertible and that would be catastrophic for the brand.

    • 0 avatar

      This is exactly how I feel. I think Porsche is worried that at that price range they won’t be competitive enough and will lose the image they have created. I already think many Porsches are over-priced. If they dropped down to this market, they would prove that they are over-priced.

      I don’t know that it would be catastrophic, but it would be another black eye. I’ve seen the panamera and sorry there is no way I’d take that over a Jaguar or an Aston Martin.

  • avatar

    “The brand is the main reason to buy a Porsche.”

    This is exactly what Mercedes-Benz discovered when launching the lowest quality vehicle they had ever made, the M-class. People buy nice cars because of the brand. BMW was slow to learning that lesson, but is working hard to catch up. Someone openly admitting to the product no longer being the focus is a sign something has gone seriously wrong at HQ.

  • avatar

    So the Cajun will cost more than a Boxster.

  • avatar

    “…Neither is a small Panamera”.
    The latest issue of the German “Auto-Bild” announces a scaled-down Panamera called Pajun due for 2017, aiming at four-door up-scale competitors like Audi A6/A7, BMW 5/6 Gran Coupe, Mercedes E-Class.
    Looking at the price range in question, there might be a smaller Porsche Panamera in sight, although not at a discount.
    So, no need to worry for mainstream Porsche customers (“The brand is the main reason to buy a Porsche”).
    Anyway. Not a bad idea. The Panamera is a really bloated, fat car. Even a Silver Ghost from the sixties looks sleek and nimble in comparison. Maybe this way Porsche can generate a new, less obtrusive cash cow.

  • avatar

    So Porsche is not about to jump the shark. That’s good news.

    But wait – it already *did* jump the shark, 10 years ago, when it launched the tractor known as the Porsche Cayenne.

  • avatar

    “The brand is the main reason to buy a Porsche. ”
    And the insufferable douchebaggery continues.

    Note to aging hippie David Holzman, you can stop disappointing your parents, they’re dead.

  • avatar

    Don’t you mean Matthias Müller?

  • avatar

    O rly? Hmm they didn’t seem to think that when they built the Cayenne. Bastards.

  • avatar

    I think the main problem with the Porsche image is its customers, not the cars. There is a real dickish air, rightly or wrongly, about them in popular culture that just isn’t there with most other sports car owners!

    • 0 avatar

      Then again ever been to a mixed track day with Porsche, Mustang, Corvette,BMW, etc owners.

      I’ll call a spade a spade and in a crowd like that it’s almost always the Porsche owners being arrogant. In my experience that is. Doesn’t mean that the others can’t be bad in their own ways, but the Porsche owners seem to have a larger % of them being the “spade”.

    • 0 avatar

      Its been that way for some time, its because of them that the 924 could never reach its potential.

  • avatar

    What a joke. How about some more “truth” and less “PR” around here? What the article should have said is Porsche nearly went bankrupt from misguided financial shenanigans and had to cancel development efforts. But blaming current customers on the decision is always a nice scapegoat as well.

  • avatar

    “The brand is the main reason to buy a Porsche.”

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    “Entry Level” Porsche = “Certified Pre-Owned” Porsche.

    So why should the factory bother?

  • avatar

    I know why they won’t come out with an entry level Porsche:

    1. It would cost too much since in Porsche logic the more bare-bones that your Porsh is the more its worth.

    2. If you beefed it up, it would dominate the 911. Both the 924 and Cayman could’ve beaten the 911 but they had to be ruined so arrogant 911 owners would be happy.

    • 0 avatar

      The 914 was faster than the 911 for any level of engine tune too. It’s almost like there is something fundamentally wrong with the 911’s engine location, which might explain the popularity of rear engined cars. Back when engineering was a bigger influence than brand management at Porsche, they knew the way forward was with mid-engined and front engine/rear transaxle cars. Unfortunately, Porsche customers don’t buy engineering. That being said, with so many other GT makers abandoning manual transmissions there very well may be a 7-speed, 3-pedal Porsche in my future. Maybe they’ll put one in a Cayman with an engine that doesn’t have a fuse one day.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Thank you for schooling me on the proper name, David. Way back before cars, Porsche built a tractor that was roughly equivalent to a Ford 8N. The pick up crack was a joke, A few yrs ago at Lime Rock I saw a street legal sand rail. The front axle was a 60s bug and there was a later model trans-axle rigged up on a square tube caged frame. The engine hanging on it was a water cooled I4 VW. It had road tires not nobbies A home made Ariel . A low ,light car doesnt need a hot engine

  • avatar

    Porsche needs to take on the 3 series…….

  • avatar

    Cayman, baby…….Cayman.

  • avatar

    there is always a lightly used Pre-owned PORSCHES to be had!

  • avatar
    Mr Nosy

    Well first of all, any brand strategies that Porsche adopts by me here,I expect requisite compensation.Proceeds can be forwarded to my person,via this site,somehow.Since all past “entry-level” Porsches have been derided as tarted up VWs(Illustrating a poseur’s knowledge of VW/Porsche’s history.)why not make the entry level Porsche out of a decontented prev gen Boxster? C’mon,What’s with this dashboard materials obsession? How often do you actually ever touch it,really? Everyone,just butch it up a little.K? It could be built down in the good ‘ole American South.Start everybody out at $12-$13hr,with a raise in 2-3 years to $10-$11hr,$9,if they meet all quotas.Not doable? Buy up all available salvage title Boxsters and recondition ’em (Titled appropriately,of course.)as the BoxsterUPZ,or RE-Boxster. Or you can just deal with the gay innuendos(You’ll know better?)and buy the next Mazda Miata.

    • 0 avatar

      “It could be built down in the good ‘ole American South.Start everybody out at $12-$13hr,with a raise in 2-3 years to $10-$11hr,$9,if they meet all quotas.”

      Yes sirree! And if they’re really really good, a few years after that, give ’em a raise to a buck-fifty an hour and all the food they can eat at the company cafeteria. Porsche would have discovered a new way to cut costs! Pay ’em less as they get better, yeah, that’s the ticket.

      Harumph. Got any more brilliant ideas?

  • avatar

    “The brand is the main reason to buy a Porsche.”

    Guess Ill keep the old Miata then…The car itself was my main reason for buying it.

  • avatar

    Porch has a very neatly structured product line where less expensive cars in no way should eclipse/outperform their pricier bretheren–that’s partially why the Boxter and Cayman will never be given serious engine upgrades, because it’d be sacrilege for any Porch owner who spent 100 grand to suddenly feel inferior to an upstart in a 60k car, God forbid what would happen if that car cost 30k? You might even have to TALK to the filthy rabble when you take your precision machine in to the dealer.

    But that logic seems to fall apart with the cars and SUVs they’ve put forth. Does the Denali and ML cross-shopping bored rich housewife meet the stringent Porch image? And who is the Panamerica[sic] buyer? When the wealthy orthodontist or plastic surgeon takes a weekend off with his mistress, he doesn’t want to bring the family car along for the ride.

    I don’t know, I think that Stuttgart can make some very appealing cars, but most of their line-up is garish and appaling… and way overpriced.

  • avatar

    “Yes sirree! And if they’re really really good, a few years after that, give ‘em a raise to a buck-fifty an hour and all the food they can eat at the company cafeteria. Porsche would have discovered a new way to cut costs! Pay ‘em less as they get better, yeah, that’s the ticket.”

    I think you may be on to something here.
    Give them a pay cut for high performance, tell them less employee income tax revenue goes to the gummint.
    With less revenue the gummint can’t do all the things you don’t like them doing.
    You’ve invented the new corporate Southern Strategy.

    Panamera, two possible explanations.

    1. Photoshop gag that somehow got out of control.

    2. Some petulant 13 year old grandchild of F Porshe is throwing a birthday tantrum.
    “I don’t want a Carrera4 I want a four door Carrera” (in my head this plays out almost exactly like Violet Beauregard’s introductory scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This strikes me as a sort of half truth.

    First, Porsche brand equity today is built from the hulking SUVs and the hulking Panamera sedan: “I own this expensive car because I can afford to and you can’t” It’s not built on what remains of Porsche sports cars. Ergo, a (relatively) cheap sportscar is not going to build “brand equity.

    Second, Porsche and all the German manufacturers’ cost structure is such that they simply cannot build a cheap sports car that, dollar-for-dollar is better than what’s avialable from Japan (or possibly in the not too distant future) Korea.

    The Z3 and the Boxster were supposed to be “cheap and cheerful” sports cars (and the Z3 was assembled in the U.S., to make it cheaper). At its original price, the Z3 was not competitive with the Miata . . . but BMW stuffed it with increasingly more powerful engines — which simply served to reveal the limitations of its cheap and cheerful chassis (and trailing arm suspension) and also drove up the price. The Boxster suffered a different fate: it was fundamentally a great platform and Porsche baked in more performance . . . and higher price.

    Today the Z4 is pretty much of a boulevardier, not a serious sports car; and the Boxster is expensive.

    For cheap thrills get a Nissan 370Z or even cheaper thrills, get an MX-5. Somewhere in between is the new FR-S. No room for the Germans.

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