Friday, February 9, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, February 9, 2001

Porsche races into SUV market

Associated Press

CHICAGO — A sleek new sport utility vehicle will be added to the crowded U.S. market next year: the Cayenne, made by Porsche AG.

"Critics say we’re late to the game," said Frederick Schwab, chief of the German company’s North American operations. "The first word in SUV is sport, and Porsche is all about sports cars."

More than half of the 25,000 Cayenne expected to be made next year probably will be for U.S. showrooms, Schwab said during the media preview of the Chicago Auto Show, which opens today.

Also yesterday, Ford’s Mercury unit unveiled the five-passenger Marauder, an incarnation of a muscle car that made its name in the 1960s. Mazda showed off a vehicle resembling a combination station wagon-SUV called the Premacy.

Schwab said the SUV would be German-built and use the same platform as a corresponding Volkswagen AG model, with Porsche leading development of both.

While Schwab wouldn’t spell out the Cayenne’s possible price, Fortune magazine has reported the SUV would sell for about $45,000. Ron Pinelli, an analyst with Autodata Corp. in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., said the price could run $60,000 for a basic model and $80,000 for a spiced-up version as it competes with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

He predicted the new model would be a hit with consumers and a success for Porsche, which has rebounded from the brink of collapse during the early 1990s.

Porsche will benefit from the assumption the Cayenne will be high value, albeit "very expensive toy that caters to the person who wants everything," he said.

"If Porsche wanted to come out with a four-door sedan today, my conversation wouldn’t be as positive. No one needs another sedan model."

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