Driving It Home

Why Porsche doesn’t sell diesel cars in Canada

Special to The Globe and Mail

Porsche has sold a Cayenne diesel in Europe since early 2009 and it may be coming to Canada, too.

“We are definitely thinking about diesels,” says Porsche Canada spokesman Laurance Yap in an e-mail. “Canada would love to have the Cayenne diesel (it could probably add a couple hundred units quite easily), but U.S. would have to take it. Sounds like they want it now, too.”

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Yap says Porsche Canada is likely to have a diesel Cayenne “in about two years.” A diesel version of the Panamera sedan is also a very strong possibility. Last year, the company introduced a Cayenne gasoline-electric hybrid in Europe and North America.

Yap says Porsche is still studying the viability of the Panamera diesel. But he notes that Mercedes-Benz and Audi both plan to offer diesel versions of their biggest sedans – the S-Class and the A8, respectively. A diesel Panamera, says Yap, “would be a small volume car if it came, but if the States takes it, we will too (in Canada).”

Automotive News is reporting that Porsche may unveil Panamera variants with a diesel engine and a gasoline-electric hybrid power train at the Geneva auto show in early March. Both models would help Porsche meet demand for fuel-efficient cars among luxury car buyers.

Bernhard Maier, Porsche sales and marketing chief, told Automotive News that his company has seen consumers in the U.S. increasingly choosing diesel cars. Canadians have long been more receptive to diesels, therefore a Panamera diesels seems like a easy decision for Porsche Canada to make. The problem is the Americans must agree, or the Canadian arm will not be able to sell the Panamera diesel profitably.

Porsche, of course, is looking for at any possible way to boost sales. The company expects total sales this year to be more than 100,000 units, but the sales goal by 2018 is for annual Porsche sales of at least 200,000.

Porsche sold a record 2,036 vehicles in Canada. The Panamera has much to do with that success. Indeed, Porsche’s model mix is changing and will continue to evolve. The Panamera, a fourth Porsche model launched at the end of 2009, accounted for 23 per cent of Porsche's total sales in 2010. Cayenne SUV sales accounted for 40 per cent. Sports car? Barely a third of Porsche sales (37 per cent) were 911 and Boxster/Cayman sports cars.

Porsche is clearly no longer a sports car company. With that in mind, it seems diesel SUVs and luxury saloons are surely in the pipeline for Canadians and Americans.

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