DETROIT – The all-new Macan CUV, which hits the U.S. market midyear, will draw an entirely new customer to Porsche, the automaker’s top North American executive predicts.
Derived from the Audi Q5, the Macan represents the latest effort to break into new marketing segments for the German sports-car brand, which expanded its reach first with the controversial Cayenne CUV in 2002 and the Panamera luxury sedan in 2009.
Purists blanched at the thought of Porsche marketing anything other than sports cars, but the Cayenne now accounts for more than half of the automaker’s worldwide sales and the Panamera is the vehicle choice for 13% of Porsche buyers in the U.S.
The new Macan, priced at $49,900 to start, is seen pushing the brand’s market reach further, drawing younger buyers to its showrooms than the Cayenne.
“I don’t expect a huge substitution between the Cayenne and the Macan,” Porsche North America President and CEO Detlev von Platen tells WardsAuto in an interview at the North American International Auto Show. “We are touching a much younger, urban population, which shares the same values with other Porsche customers.
“(It) is very important to open up our brand to younger customers, without taking any dilution with our brand.”
Porsche isn’t forecasting sales of the new model, which arrives in the U.S. midyear. Production is planned at 50,000 units annually, with supply distributed about evenly among North America, Europe and Asia.
However, the U.S., Porsche’s single-biggest market, could get a little less than its fair share this year, because the Macan goes on sale sooner in Europe and margins are tighter here, making it more profitable to sell more of the vehicles in other markets, including China.
Von Platen contends the Macan, despite its CUV body style, remains true to the Porsche brand DNA. It offers two engines, a 340-hp twin-turbo 3.0L V-6 or a 400-hp twin-turbo 3.6L V-6, and standard all-wheel drive.
“We’re bringing a sports car (to) the SUV segment,” he says. “When you are driving the Macan, it’s like driving a closed 911, (just) a little bit higher (above the road).”
Porsche used the auto show here to introduce a new 911 Targa model, which also is due this summer in the U.S. Von Platen expects the new rendition to account for more than 10% of 911 sales this year.
“It’s a really a beautiful car,” he says of the 911 Targa “It will be a strong statement for Porsche design.”
The automaker is coming off record sales of 162,145 units worldwide in 2013, including all-time high marks in the U.S. and Canada. Its 42,323 U.S. sales last year represent a doubling of volume since 2008.
Von Platen isn’t revealing any sales targets for 2014, saying he would be happy to match 2013 levels or “maybe a little more.
“Volume presence is good, but I see this as a consequence of what we are doing,” he says. “But we are confident. When we look at the economy, everything is a green light.”