NEW YORK – Buoyed by dealers’ enthusiastic outlook during a recent tour of Porsche stores around the country, the brand’s new North American chief is optimistic about 2008 sales.
Detlev von Platen tells journalists at a press conference here feedback from the 25 U.S. dealers he visited in his first two months on the job “is quite positive.”
Porsche sales in May were down 16% from year-ago’s record-breaking results. However, deliveries of the Cayenne cross/utility vehicle rose 12% in the month, benefiting from the launch of the new GTS model that has accounted for almost 1,300 sales since in was introduced three months ago.
The average transaction price of the Cayenne GTS is more than $90,000.
Von Platen’s last assignment was chief of Porsche of France, his native country. Under his stewardship, Porsche set a record 3,000 annual sales. The auto maker’s U.S. sales are 10 times that amount, he says, accounting for 39% of the brand’s deliveries worldwide.
Traditionally, Porsche’s U.S. sales are split equally between the Cayenne, 911 and mid-engine Boxster/Cayman models, about one-third for each series. However, Cayenne’s sales this year have been bolstered by the GTS.
While there is a 40-day supply of Cayenne CUVs, there is a shortage of V-6 models. That will be fixed in the year’s second-half, he says. The GTS has taken some Cayenne S sales. But total Cayenne deliveries through May were 5,342 units, well ahead of last year’s 4,753.
Von Platen says sales of the other Porsche models are “OK.” There is a 69-days’ supply of 911 models. But dealers report it’s harder to make a deal this year. There are signs the Cayman and Boxster, whose sales were off to a slow start, are beginning to move more briskly.
There are no incentives on any Porsche models, but Von Platen admits some dealers may cut prices to close deals. He has no plans to offer any corporate incentives, he says, because although the luxury sports-car segment is declining, Porsche is improving its market share.
One problem Porsche has is the mistaken perception the 911 has poor fuel consumption. “There is no gas-guzzler tax on any Porsche,” Von Platen says. “Our sports-car average (fuel economy) is 27 mpg (8.7 L/100 km).”
The Porsche chief admits the strong euro adversely affects profits of U.S. sales, but the auto maker no plans to cut back on shipments due to the weak dollar. “I intend to support our U.S. dealers,” he says.
Additionally, Porsche does not intend to build Cayennes in the U.S., even ifTouaregs and Audi Q7s are assembled here.
“We don’t see any reason to make Cayennes in the U.S.,” Von Platen says.