If a report in Car and Driver is correct, Porsche’s Leipzig assembly plant will soon be home to two overlapping eras — internal combustion, and what comes next. The site, upgraded in the previous decade, handles production of the Macan, which Porsche claims will don an all-electric powertrain for its next generation.
Not so fast, say company insiders.
Think of it as a swan song for gasoline propulsion, not the Macan itself. For the 2020 model year, the hottest version of Porsche’s entry-level ute returns with more power and less displacement on tap, but the Macan Turbo sings its siren song against a funeral dirge backdrop.
This vehicle is a get-one-while-you-still-can proposition.
So, perhaps not cheapest for long. Tuesday, the German automaker announced its next-generation Macan crossover will divest itself of internal combustion for its next generation.
By adopting new architecture and dropping its gas powerplant, the Macan, refreshed for 2019 and currently starting at just a tick below $50k U.S., will become the company’s third electric vehicle. It’s unlikely the S and GTS variants will survive, but perhaps the Macan will retain TURBO badging of a non-turbo nature?
Having already introduced a subscription service for its vehicles, Porsche decided to continue experimenting with alternatives to traditional car ownership. The luxury brand plans to launch two pilot programs on both U.S. coasts (condolences to America’s Heartland) aimed at encouraging drivers to get behind the wheel of a Porsche for brief periods of time.
The first, overseen by Porsche Cars North America, will test exclusively within the Atlanta area, near Porsche’s North American headquarters. Called Porsche Drive, the pilot program launched a few days ago and offers hourly to weekly rentals of new Porsche cars and SUVs. Meanwhile, a second joint venture with peer-to-peer car rental company Turo will service San Francisco and Los Angeles starting next month. That endeavor focuses on the sharing of already purchased (new and vintage) Porsche vehicles by owners inclined to share them.
When you think about Porsche, you’re probably thinking of the 911. However, you really should be thinking about the Macan. It may have started out as a supplementary model for families interested in the Cayenne SUV but who found it beyond their means, but it’s quickly become the company’s best-selling vehicle. You now see them in every neighborhood where status is the deciding factor in automobile purchases.
Fortunately, the Macan also drives better than any compact crossover has a right to — further helping its popularity. But, with more competition within the premium utility segment than ever before, Porsche can’t leave the model to rest on its laurels. The manufacturer has updated the model for 2019 with loads of changes, but spotting them is a little like tackling the Double Check in a Highlights magazine under the influence of a rather severe childhood learning disability.
Porsche, the iconic performance nameplate diving ever deeper into luxury and electrification, once again finds itself incapable of withholding its excitement toward both. Company board member Detlev von Platen claims Porsche is seriously considering increasing the production capacity of its upcoming Mission E model beyond 20,000 annual units and electrifying the Macan crossover.
According to von Platen, initial customer inquiries into the Mission E has been so strong that the brand wants to make sure it can meet demand. Buying habits also give the automaker hope that its customer base is prepared to make the eventual switch from internal combustion to electrically-assisted engines.
“In Europe, around 60 percent of Panamera vehicles were delivered with a hybrid drivetrain,” von Platen said.
Nobody could have predicted the success Porsche was to enjoy after introducing a performance-oriented sport utility vehicle in 2002. When the German manufacturer introduced the Cayenne, everyone scoffed, claiming the very idea of a sporting high-end SUV was patently ridiculous.
It’s now 15 years later and every premium brand is trying to replicate Porsch’s success with its own ultra-lux SUV. Lamborghini is getting the Urus, Bentley has the Bentayga, and even Ferrari — a company that said a sport utility vehicle was out of the question — recently confirmed development plans on its own “FUV.”
But sometimes one just isn’t enough. Maserati already has the Levante but Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says it will need a second if it’s going to hit ambitious profitability targets announced this week.
Porsche revealed a new, third-generation Cayenne on a new platform late last month, but the U.S. arrival of the third version of Porsche’s original SUV won’t take place until the second half of 2018.
While the new Cayenne will be sold in some markets as a MY2018 vehicle, the 2018 Cayenne on this side of the Atlantic is the outgoing Cayenne. Yes, that Cayenne, the Cayenne that’s suffering from a sharp sales decline.
In August 2017, the Cayenne’s gradual and not entirely unpredictable old-age decline was matched to a sudden downward shift from its smaller sibling, as well. Macan sales plunged 29 percent last month. Cayenne volume was down 28 percent. Jointly, the duo lost 1,003 sales, year-over-year.
You know what that means. The [s]overwhelming majority[/s], [s]the lion’s share[/s], [s]most[/s], [s]nearly half[/s], more than a third of the vehicles sold in Porsche’s U.S. showrooms in August 2017 were sports cars. Yes, Porsche still builds sports cars, rather decent ones, in fact. And in August, Porsche’s sports car sales were very healthy indeed.
While still exclusive, Porsche is gradually becoming a more populous and profitable brand. It delivered 238,000 vehicles last year and posted an operating profit of $4.1 billion — a 14-percent increase over 2015’s accounting.
A little back-of-the-envelope math places the per-car profit at roughly $17,250. As a premium automaker, you’d expect it to rake it in on every vehicle sold. However, Porsche doesn’t limit production to the same extent that Ferrari does in order to maintain artificially high prices. And it absolutely decimates other premium brands that offer exclusivity at a higher volume. BMW and Mercedes-Benz both hover at around $5,000 in profit per car.
Porsche seems to have struck an ideal balance. While its per-car profit was actually higher a few years ago — $23,000 in 2013 — it wasn’t making quite as much money overall. At the time, Bentley pulled in roughly 21 grand per unit and sold fewer vehicles overall. Since then, Porsche has shifted some of its focus downmarket, introduced the Macan, expanded its volume, increased income, and still managed to maintain a sweet profit margin on every vehicle sold.
How did it manage that? Basically, the same way Ford wrangles its F-150.
Porsche says it doesn’t anticipate the introduction of any vehicles smaller or cheaper than the Macan and 718 in the current production lineup. That’s bad news for anyone who was holding out for Porsche to build a modern day 914/4 and great news for a premium automotive company that doesn’t want to sully the brand with an affordable dud.
Subaru, worried that it might be losing its coolness, could be planning to rebel against its new-found mainstream image.
That, Big Battery picks up steam, Tesla’s stock turbulence continues to amaze, NASCAR wants Millennials to watch a race, and Porsche thanks its lucky stars for SUVs … after the break!
Only seven years removed from selling more than 100,000 cars in the United States, Scion’s current woes are more easily understood by looking at the brands which now outsell Toyota’s “youth” brand.
One such Scion-besting automaker: Porsche.
Rewind just one year and Scion, through the first eight months of 2014, was outselling Porsche by 10,000 units. Yet in the first eight months of 2015, Scion only outsold Porsche three times — in February, March, and May — and trails Porsche by nearly 2,200 sales heading into September.
Porsche is certainly not a Scion rival. Even the FR-S, Scion’s most costly car, costs only half as much as Porsche’s least expensive car, a basic, un-optioned Boxster. (Is there even such a thing?)
But the change in order speaks volumes about Porsche’s steady climb to record highs and the fall of Scion, the latter of which saw its share of the U.S. market fall by 73 percent, from 1.04 percent in 2006 to 0.28 percent in 2015.
In July 2015, for just the second time since arriving in America 15 months ago, the Porsche Macan outsold its bigger brother Cayenne.
Also in July 2015, for the first time since arriving in America 15 months ago, the Porsche Macan was the best-selling Porsche in America.
But is Porsche just using the Macan to appeal to Cayenne buyers who want something smaller or less expensive, thereby cannibalizing Cayenne volume in the United States?