The secret to Porsche's product success comes down to one word: simplicity.
That means starting with core vehicle architectures and then refining them constantly, relentlessly. That means keeping together a tight-knit team of engineers, designers and product planners and allowing them to refine their core skills in tandem with their product work. And that means being careful not to get carried away with stretching the lineup into all sorts of nooks and crannies to chase sales that could put the company's history of engineering excellence at risk.
That's the story top engineers share as they explain the 2015 Cayenne freshening. They also express concern about the challenges they face as Porsche relentlessly expands its lineup while growing sales and profits around the world.
Indeed, the new-model push at Porsche has been and will continue to be dramatic. Already for 2014, Porsche has launched the high-volume Macan compact SUV, along with the 918 Spyder super hybrid, the 911 GT3 and the Targa 911. The updated version of the high-volume Cayenne SUV hits showrooms this October. And in June the company managed to mount an expensive and demanding racing effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Next year Porsche will be back at Le Mans with an even stronger effort, say engineers who vow a better showing. Porsche's top entry failed to finish the 24-hour race, while the best that can be said about the second car is that it crossed the finish line under its own power, though not in contention for a podium finish.
As for new models, reports suggest buyers should look for Porsche to freshen the Boxster and introduce four-cylinder and diesel versions of the Macan. For 2016, the Porsche product pipeline should include the debut of a Boxster RS Spyder and a Cayman GT4, along with a Panamera redesign and a Cayman freshening.
Porsche's growth plans are well known, which means the auto world has been spinning with speculation about what possible new segments Porsche might enter. There is talk of a car to fit between the 911 Turbo S and the 918 Spyder, and Porsche might also build a sedan smaller than the Panamera.
Here's what Porsche won't do, Bernard Maier, head of global sales and marketing, told Automotive News. The company will not build an entry-level roadster or an SUV smaller than the Macan. However, he hinted that Porsche might yet have one or two product surprises in store – models that might even surprise the hungry and speculative press.
That's a tsunami of new products and new product ideas from relatively tiny Porsche. Tiny, but growing. Porsche delivered 120,000 vehicles worldwide through the end of August, reflecting a 12 per cent jump in sales compared to the same period last year. In 2013, Porsche set an all-time sales record of 162,000. The goal within the next couple of years is to reach 200,000 in sales.
Rapid growth brings rewards, but also risks. In February, for instance, Porsche announced that it will inspect every engine in every 2014 911 GT3. After reports of engine fires, Porsche suspended GT3 deliveries and informed owners that they should stop using their sports cars until Porsche has had a chance to give them a thorough once-over. That was a black eye for the company.
As for rewards, for the first half of this year, Porsche's profits jumped to €1.74-billion versus €1.47-billion for the first half of 2013. Nice. But keep in mind that as part of the massive Volkswagen Group Porsche expects to earn as much as €2.7-billion for the full year.
Keeping things simple in light of ambitious growth and profit plans won't be easy.
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