Special Coverage

Chicago Auto Show

CHICAGO – Detroit should not feel snubbed by Porsche AG’s absence from the recent North American International Auto Show, Peter Schwarzenbauer, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America Inc., tells journalists at the Chicago auto show here.

Schwarzenbauer says the decision was entirely market driven and that Porsche sells at least twice as many vehicles in Illinois as it does in Michigan.

“Nothing against Detroit or the show organizers,” he says. “Some people say we are trying to send a signal. No, it was truly a business decision. We decided to go into the five or six biggest cities, and Detroit is not one of them.”

Although Schwarzenbauer says the decision to leave Detroit “has nothing to do with the show,” he admits exhibiting at Cobo Center is “always too expensive, no doubt about it. Extremely expensive.”

Chicago represents Porsche’s fifth largest market in the U.S. Porsche also chose Chicago this year because of the unveiling of the all-new Cayenne GTS cross/utility vehicle.

Throughout the U.S., the Cayenne makes up 33% of total sales volume for Porsche. But in Chicago, sales are evenly split between Cayenne and sports cars, suggesting a niche that needs further cultivation, the auto maker says.

Porsche also considers Chicago to be a national auto show, while the Detroit expo is international in scope. Porsche says the return on investment at other European and Asian international auto shows is better than at Detroit.

Asked if Porsche has any interest in returning to the Detroit auto show, Schwarzenbauer says: “We are watching it, but there are no plans to go back in 2009.”

tmurphy@wardsauto.com