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Porsche may add electric car to expand lineup to seven models

Friday, March 13, 2015 - 19:44
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Porsche AG may add a battery-powered car to its lineup as it finalizes expansion plans to cater to rising demand for sporty luxury vehicles.

[FRANKFURT] Porsche AG may add a battery-powered car to its lineup as it finalizes expansion plans to cater to rising demand for sporty luxury vehicles.

"In the not-too-distant future, we will present a seventh model line" that would hit the market by 2020, Matthias Mueller, head of the sports-car maker, said on Friday at Porsche's annual press conference.

"There are already promising plans, but no board decision yet."

The Volkswagen AG unit is considering an electric car to comply with environmental regulations and counter the rise of Tesla Motors Inc. The form of the car has yet to be decided.

Porsche previously said it might expand the Panamera coupe line with a smaller version or a more spacious shooting brake variant. Porsche is also considering a new sports car between the 911, which costs US$151,100 for the Turbo version, and the US$845,000 918 Spyder hybrid supercar. The new sports car model would be designed to challenge autos made by Ferrari SpA.

Porsche plans to sell more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time this year, driven by demand for the US$49,900 Macan compact sport-utility vehicle it introduced in April 2014. The increase comes amid a rising tide for most luxury-car makers, with Porsche, its sister brands Audi and Bentley, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG all reporting fresh sales records last year.

Porsche's deliveries rose 17 per cent to 189,849 cars in 2014 and surged 34 per cent in February to 14,836 cars. Demand for luxury autos is forecast to rise further this year thanks to growth in China and the US.

Smartphone on Wheels The profit margin for the Stuttgart, Germany-based carmaker narrowed to 15.8 per cent from 18 per cent last year due to costs for adding the Macan to its lineup and revamping the best- selling Cayenne SUV. Even so, Porsche's return on sales remained one of the highest among global automakers. Porsche also sells the Boxster roadster and the hard-top Cayman variant.

Porsche will focus its development efforts on engines and handling rather than push for the latest advances in in-car Internet and automated driving.

The brand's customers "don't want a smartphone on four wheels or the biggest touchscreen in the center console," said Mr Mueller.

"At Porsche there's no room for window dressing."

Profits from Porsche and Audi are vital to finance the global expansion plan of parent Volkswagen to dethrone Toyota Motor Corp from the industry's top spot by 2018.

Porsche forecast revenue will continue to rise this year on the back of higher sales volumes. Rising costs for developing new models and expanding manufacturing capacity are poised to weigh on earnings.

"Repeating the result at the level of the previous year represents an ambitious aim," Porsche Chief Financial Officer Lutz Meschke said.

"Nevertheless, we shall adhere to our strategic returns target of 15 per cent."

BLOOMBERG

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