After hanging around with Germans for a while, it’s possible to get the impression that most are born without a sense of humor. Then they surprise you every once in a while.
Take, for instance, Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller. He told German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung that the automaker was no longer planning on producing an entry-level sports car to slot below the Boxster, as was promised late last year. Okay, sometimes you have to make tough business decisions. It happens.
But his reasoning is beyond comical. It has nothing to do with Porsche’s finances. No, Mueller says the decision was made because he’s worried about diluting the brand and alienating traditional customers. Excuse me?
“We would do no good to the brand if we were to lose traditional Porsche customers,” Mueller says of adding what would be a $35,000 to $40,000 sports car to complement the $50,450 Boxster. This comes after Porsche builds the Cayenne SUV, produces the Panamera sedan, announces the forthcoming compact Porsche Macan crossover is well into development. He’s worried about brand dilution? Now?
Earlier this month, Automobile Magazine reported the small sports car was on hold but not completely canceled. Porsche’s next few vehicles will likely be the compact crossover, 918 hybrid supercar, and a model rumored to slot between the Porsche 911 GT2 and the 918 in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. It’s all part of Porsche’s goal to sell upwards of 200,000 vehicles worldwide over the next few years—most of which will be SUVs, including the Cayenne Diesel. And Porsche is worried about brand dilution. Oh that’s right, Porsche did sell a diesel tractor in the 1950s and ’60s. Sorry for the confusion.
Automotive.com’s take: Porsche’s first car to bear the famous name, the 356, was based on a Volkswagen Beetle. Its second car, the 911, had an optional four-cylinder version called the 912 to keep prices down. Then Porsche followed up with the four-cylinder 914, 924, and 944 models all in the name of keeping the brand somewhat accessible. Now Porsche has as many non-sports cars as it does sports cars and is slowly being inhaled by Volkswagen and homogenized with variants of existing vehicles from “lesser” brands. While Porsches have never been cheap, the automaker has always offered performance models at various price points. Clearly, the storied sports car maker, the winner of more racing titles than just about any other automaker, is run by a guy who may not know what the word “dilution” means. Or Mueller just has a really good sense of humor.