Porsche Cayenne Top Speed 165 MPH

May 28, 2002

BLOOMBERG NEWS has reported that Porsche AG said its first sport-utility vehicle will have a top speed of 165 miles per hour and a suspension that changes height based on terrain and speed.

The Cayenne goes on sale this year in an "S" version with a 4.5-liter, 340-horsepower engine and a turbo version with a 450-horsepower engine, spokesman Martin Peters said. The truck has six suspension settings for riding on and off roads and can tow as much as 7,700 pounds, about the weight of an Asian elephant. The model price isn't set.

Porsche considers the Cayenne key to the company's ability to remain independent because sport-utility sales tend to be less vulnerable to economic cycles than demand for sports cars. The Stuttgart, Germany-based company expects to make 25,000 Cayennes annually in its home country, 70 percent for export.

"Luxury sales are booming and there aren't any signs of a slowdown," said Wes Brown, an analyst for Thousand Oaks, California-based Nextrend, which tracks car-buying patterns. "All these people have luxury SUVs in their garages and they figure, 'Why shouldn't it be a Porsche?"'

The sport-utility, which Porsche won't show to consumers in person until later this year, is designed to lure buyers from Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's X5, DaimlerChrysler AG's Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Ford Motor Co.'s new Land Rover sport-utilities, Tim Mahoney, general marketing manager for the automaker's Atlanta-based U.S. sales arm, said in an interview.

The automaker acknowledges no one really needs a sport-utility with both a top speed of 165 mph and the ability to haul a pachyderm.

"We're a company that makes sports cars," Peters said. "We build a product that people don't need. They want it."

Men Over 40

The Cayenne is aimed at men in their mid-40s with incomes of about $225,000, Mahoney said. The truck may sell for $52,000 to $75,000, auto-data company AutoPacific Group estimates, higher than the $36,965 to $70,000 range of BMW, Mercedes and Land Rover rivals.

The company's shares fell 13 cents to 505.87 euros in German trading. They have risen 19 percent this year.

Analysts estimate that 25,000 Cayennes a year may lead to $1.4 billion in added sales and $140 million in profit. Porsche, with annual sales of about 50,000 sports cars including 23,000 in the U.S., developed Cayenne with Volkswagen AG. Volkswagen will have its own version, and the automakers will share some engines.

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