By on August 28, 2012

There had been consistent rumors of an entry-level Porsche, below the Boxster. Porsche CEO Matthias Müller discounted the rumors, again and again. Just to be sure, Müller denied rumors of a discount Porsche again today, but he also admitted that plans for a low price Porsche were not mere rumors. The plans exist. Somewhere on a shelf at Porsche.

In a few weeks, Porsche production will start in the former Karmann plant in Osnabrück. To celebrate this event, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung had a sit-down with Müller, and he said:

“Indeed, there were so such plans. There is precedence in Porsche’s history, the 550 was a very successful car. We would have to position this car below the Boxster, also when it comes to price. The question is, will the brand tolerate this? We think the danger of negatively impacting our brand is too big. Therefore, we shelved this project for the time being.”

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32 Comments on “Porsche Chief: There Are Plans For Low Cost Porsche, But They Have Been Shelved For the Time Being...”


  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    The brand seems to tolerate crappy trucks and 4 door whales.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Being so expensive they only add to the prestige of the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      A lady I met LOVED the Porsche SUV, saying, “It is SO in line with Porsche philosophy”– Um, which philosophy is THAT? Making money off of your racing reputation by selling vehicles with exploding motors? Selling cars to old guys with gold chains around their neck who drive 20mph below the speed limit? BTW, the woman was a former ad exec who handled the Porsche account, and she had NEVER driven a Porsche!… As for the rest: “The entry level Porsche is a USED Porsche”– true when first spoken by a Porsche exec, and still true today.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    His answer still doesn’t make sense. The base Cayenne is more or less the same price as the base Boxster. So if it would be damaging to build something that is cheaper than a Boxster, why is it ok to build something that is cheaper than a Cayenne? Never mind the fact that one’s a sports car that would reinforce the Porsche brand, as opposed to try to change what it is, like with the mommy runabout.

  • avatar
    photog02

    As long as it was suitably handicapped to protect the price justification of the Boxster/Cayman (in perspective, it would need the full-on Harrison Bergeron treatment), the brand would welcome this with open arms. The bigger questions is whether there is a platform, capacity, and marketing plan for such a vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s funny, considering the Boxster/Cayman are themselves handicapped to protect the 911 (or rather, the 911’s margins).

      Buy an FR-S or Miata instead. It’ll be about what Porsche would have made anyway, less the badge and plus the maintenance costs.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “Buy an FR-S or Miata instead.”

        Wait for Subie to introduce the FI version. You’ll be able to buy it for the cost of a few options on a 911 and it won’t violate your wallet.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    I thought they had already decided to slap the Porsche brand on anything that moves.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Will the brand tolerate this? Since Porsche is hauling in wheelbarrows of profit from four door cars and SUVs, they don’t need to to make an inexpensive car. The also make wheelbarrows of profit from all 486 special editions or upgrades they put out every year. We’ll see the VW Blue Sport concept 1st.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    “We think the danger of negatively impacting our brand is too big.”

    Probably true. These days Porsche is more a line of branded lifestyle accessories for the aspirational newly rich than it is a maker of sports cars. A modern day 550 Spyder at a Mustang price wouldn’t be appealing for those who were mainly interested in conspicuous consumption. And I’m sure there’s more margin on a Panamera than a minimalist roadster.

    JB did a piece on this a while back, this pretty much seems to confirm what he was saying…

  • avatar
    SimRacingDan

    Because there’s a good chance it’d be a more desirable car than the Boxster. Many people consider the Boxster and Cayman to be a better platform for a sports car than the 911, and think Porsche intentionally holds their performance back so as not to impede on the 911 holy ground. The Boxster and Cayman already have the ‘Oh, you bought that one because you can’t afford the 911’ stigma attached, so buyers of them are less sensitive to image, and put higher value on owning a great sports car.

    Now imagine if they introduced a cheaper model that was even more fun to drive and took away Boxster sales! I tested the Boxster and the MX-5 and bought the Mazda because it was more fun to drive on streets.

    Of course, IMHO they’ve got their thinking wrong because maybe if they had a smaller, more fun Porsche model I might have bought that.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Having owned a 911 (air-cooled early 90’s version) which I replaced with a Cayman S, I can tell you the reason I went with the Cayman is I wanted a sports car, not a GT. The latest 911s are too bloafish-looking and too luxury oriented and too damn complicated. (See hydraulically actuated suspension controlled by PDDDDDCCCCC or whatever the hell they call their software program this year, for example. If I had the resources and interest, I might spring to repair the hydraulics in a MB 600 Grosser, not likely to do so with a 991.) Porsche should remember Norman Augustine’s Law XV “The last 10% of performance (and features) generates one third the cost and two thirds the problems.”

      Every now and then I look at ads for a Beck Spyder replica, the only version of a 550 I could afford. It’s at least as safe as any motorcycle, but with four wheels I guess you’ll never see anything as light and simple again.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    It’s calculated to keep the ASP of the 911 somewhere above $100,000. Putting a sub-Boxster into the brand stretches the price continuum too far. And the company isn’t just slapping the Porsche sticker onto anything that moves… their slapping it onto anything that moves that appeals to rich people. And ‘affordable’ Porsche would appeal to the enthusiasts, yes, but it wouldn’t generate the margins that the company is getting used to raking in off of the Cayenne.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      But aren’t they working on a sub-Cayenne CUV? The current VW-based soccer mom chariot starts under $50K, so the Golf or A4 based one will have to be a fighting it out with Hyundais.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “But aren’t they working on a sub-Cayenne CUV?”

        Exactly. It’s ok to build a smaller Cayenne but a smaller, lighter sports car that slots below the Boxster will ruin Porsche’s image?

        And speaking of image, among the folks I know and associate with, Porsche is a fine sports car that’s beginning to jump the shark. They aren’t as stout as they used to be, they cost a lot more and they’re kinda getting a “douche” stigma attached to them–and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the options list–I mean shouldn’t every Porsche have a “sports exhaust”?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I suspect the problem is that the franchise player is inherently handicapped. They have to hobble the Boxster already to keep it from running rings around the rear-engined parade float, so whatever slots under it would have a hard time keeping up with $25K sports sedans. It kind of has the feel of GM’s Corvette brand management. How many sports car programs did they kill or hobble to keep the Corvette from facing competition? Wasn’t the Fiero supposed to be a 2.9 liter turbo V6? Didn’t the LS-x fit in the Solstice? Remember Pontiac’s Banshees? I guess it works, since there are still cars called Corvettes and 911s.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        They are going to take a <$30K already profitable VW CUV and charge $40K for it. See "making wheelbarrows of money".

      • 0 avatar
        stuntmonkey

        > But aren’t they working on a sub-Cayenne CUV?

        Key word: margins. You can crib the Golf/Tiguan/A4 platform for a CUV, but they’ve got nothing to translate into a true sportscar for a sub-Boxster.

        Besides… there’s an even darker danger. The base Boxster makes 265hp. If you go sub to that, you’ll probably end up in the 200-250bhp range…. where everybody and their dog will start comparing it to the 370Z, the Genesis Coupe, etc. You could potentially end up with the Porsche equivalent of the BR-Z… technically excellent, but not faster or more charismatic than the competition. Brand dilution indeed.

  • avatar
    probert

    Reissue the 914 with modern tech and your job is done. Thank you.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      probert,

      This is an excellent suggestion and worth a try. Knowing the Germans, I can guess that all the plans for the 914 platform are still around. If this went for, say $35K with a built-in upgrade discount for getting a Boxster later, then that strategy might sell, AND scoop the FR-S/BRZ and the new MX-5 Miata as well. And you’d be getting mid-engine with the name “PORSCHE” on it. Might work.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porsche_914

      ———-

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The translation for Mr. Muller’s remarks is that Porsche is not in the business of selling high-volume cars. A cheaper Porsche would, by definition, be a higher-volume car than the more expensive models (SUVs aside).

    A related question is: what is in the parts bin from which this cheaper Porsche might be assembled? There are no boxer 4 cylinder motors in the VAG stable. Developing a new one just for the cheap Porsche would be expensive (viz, the comment about bringing back the 914). Air cooled engines are simply not acceptable today, for emissions reasons alone. So, non-standard engine placement (i.e. other than in the front of the car) means elaborate plumbing, ducting and so on — none of which is cheap.

    Or, to put it another way: could Porsche build a better Miata, at the same price?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      See Volkswagen BlueSport for some ideas. Mid-engine, but largely still built from standard VW components.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark_MB750M

        Or, why do a mid-engined car? How about resurrecting the 924/944/968? Could be 4 cylinder, and being front engined you don’t step in the rear/mid space of the 911 Boxster.

        Coupe and cabriolet are possible, and the 2+2 format is reasonably practical.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Here’s my 2 cents as to what he means by “negatively impacting the brand.”
    By being expensive a Porsche is a car which most poor peons cannot afford, and therefore it puts the owners of Porsche’s in a different social strata, and that’s how most Porsche owners would like to be perceived. If Porsche were to ever build a low cost car which people with not much money could be afford, it would erode the moneyed, VIP image that owning a Porsche brings.
    Porsche will never make a ‘low cost’ car, as to do so would alienate 90% of their clientele; namely those people with lots of money who only buy expensive luxury cars because they are exactly that: Expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Porsche better hope that people keep viewing their products as Veblen Goods. Knowing human nature, they probably have little reason to worry.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        Veblen goods. Interesting. I’d never heard that phrase before. I think you’re right, knowing human nature (and the newly moneyed Chinese middle/upper classes), Porsche won’t lose their status.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    There are lots of cheap Porsches out there. Check ads for 1997 – 2004 Boxsters. Well, you do have to worry about M96 engines and their RMS/IMS issues.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    Low cost new Porsche is an oxymoron these days , even back in the 70s a friend had a brand new 914 for a few months and got more from the insurance company than what he paid for it after totaling it since the price increased after he bought it (or so he claims). And like Darkhorse says today you can get a late 90s ,early 2000s Boxter for a song due to their known engine defects . People that can afford a new Porsche buy one and those that can’t buy used and get their inherent defects fixed – like that instant explosion engine Mr. Baruth opined about ! And then there was some teenaged kid who managed to barter up to one on craigslist staring out with a cellphone .

    http://jalopnik.com/5591644/how-a-17+year+old-craigslist+swapped-an-old-phone-for-a-porsche

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Push the Boxter downmarket with a smaller car featuring a four cylinder motor. That will keep the 911 exclusive, and get rid of the awkwardness of having to keep the current Boxter crippled. If they lose some current Boxter owners, who cares? They didn’t buy a 911, anyway, and will buy the cheaper one along with a lot of other new owners.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    When I read the article, it made me wonder where Porsche keeps the plans for this lower cost sports car, bringing to mind the last scene of the first Indiana Jones movie.

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