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Brand New Porsche Panamera

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Mike Stevens | Jun 20, 2009

THERE ARE A LOT of issues on Porsche's platter right now. The stalled purchase of Volkswagen, battling the financial crisis and preparations for new models have been keeping the Stuttgart operation more than occupied.

For the first nine months of this financial year Porsche has seen its global sales drop by 28 percent as the worldwide recession puts the brake on luxury car sales.

Coupled with troubles stemming from its bid for control of Volkswagen - now a merger offer - Porsche is now in something of a financial corner and a long way from the heady days of just a year earlier.

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The German firm still has a lifeline in the form of an informal offer from the Qatar Investment Authority to purchase a 25 percent share of Porsche.

But sales of Porsche products, down across the board, have seen a €4.6 billion drop in revenue, 15 percent less than last year. While so-called entry level cars like the Boxster and Cayman have taken the biggest hit, the mainstay 911 and volume selling Cayenne figures are also down.

Porsche however has Panamera range coming. Set to launch later this year, Porsche’s first four-door sedan may jumpstart sales for the marque and help steady it on its feet.

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With the Cayenne proving that unconventional, purist-upsetting offerings are capable of raking in big bucks, Porsche has developed its first sedan in the hope it can spread its reach even further.

Porsche Cars North America CEO, Detlev von Platen, is hopeful that the timing for the Panamera (on sale in the US on mid-October) will correspond with a lift in the financial outlook. Globally the Panamera has a sales target of 20,000 units annually with 7,000 of those expected to come from the US.

Long term, the Panamera has the potential to become Porsche’s number one offering. Stricter corporate fuel consumption averages being introduced in some markets mean fuel guzzlers like the Cayenne may eventually make way for smaller, lighter offerings.

pamamera-is-coming

While the Panamera isn’t exactly a fuel miser, it has the potential to be coupled with a hybrid drivetrain or diesel engine, the latter already featuring on the Cayenne with the former on the way.

For now, the Panamera is set to launch with fuel-saving features like a PDK twin-clutch gearbox and stop-start technology.

With competitors like Aston Martin’s four-door Rapide also set to surface, Porsche is showing no signs of fear. Initial figures forecast that 70 percent of Panamera buyers will be new to the Porsche brand, indicating the marque is confident the sleek sedan will broaden its market reach in a big way.

While Porsche is sticking to claims that it remains profitable, the future could be entirely different depending on the Panamera’s success. For now though, the hype surrounding the new model will help divert attention from some of the company's present troubles.

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