Porsche aims high with SUV models image

The maker of the iconic 911 sports car is accelerating expansion beyond its traditional niche with the new Macan, which just debuted at this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

Vying with the Range Rover Evoque for wealthy suburban moms, the compact model will probably become Porsche’s best seller by 2015 as SUVs account for a majority of the brand’s sales. The model, which goes on sale April 5 in Germany, has a starting price of 57,930 euros ($78,190) for the 340-horsepower Macan S version, 24 % cheaper than a comparably equipped Porsche Cayenne SUV.

The ultimate goal is to boost Porsche’s total deliveries by 38 % to more than 200,000 vehicles in the coming years. The Macan S will cost $49,900 when it goes on sale at U.S. dealers in the first half. The Turbo version will start at $72,300. Porsche charges an extra $995 for delivery costs. The carmaker expects sales to be about evenly split between the U.S., Asia and Europe, spokesman Nick Twork said.

Porsche’s expansion will add pressure especially on Land Rover. The upscale SUV brand, which already competes with the Cayenne, entered the compact SUV market in 2011 with the aggressively styled Evoque, helping to spur record sales. The base version is 34 centimeters shorter than the Macan and starts at 33,400 euros in Germany.

SUV demand continues to grow around the world, especially in China where street racers are less popular. In Europe, the Macan is seen as an option for everyday use in crowded streets.

Together with the Cayenne, which is 16.5 centimeters longer than the Macan, SUVs will account for 64 % of Porsche sales in two years, while the share of sports cars including the Boxster roadster will drop to 24 % of the brand’s deliveries, foresee analysts.

The growth drive has clear benefits for Volkswagen. Porsche accounted for 22 % of the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company’s 8.56 billion euros in operating profit in the first nine months, even though it sold just 1.6 % of the group’s vehicles. A push for volume will be forgiven if the company stays true to its sports-car heritage.

Porsche invested 500 million euros to add an assembly line for the Macan at a factory in the eastern German city of Leipzig. The plant has a capacity to make 50,000 cars a year, equivalent to a quarter of the brand’s sales goal.

Via Bloomberg