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Porsche CEO denies Chinese SUV rumors

By Carmen Lee  From Gasgoo.comJanuary 25, 2011 (Shanghai January 25) - Porsche has no plans to produce an entry-level SUV in China, the company announced in a statement made yesterday.

Matthias Müller, CEO of Porsche AG, said that although import restrictions in Asia and North America may force the company to consider the possibility of foreign production or assembly in the future, Porsche currently has no such plans. The company's production base is still limited to Germany, Müller said in a First Financial Daily report. Additionally, Porsche does not have any plans to co-produce an SUV with Audi.

Several domestic media outlets had put out reports that Porsche was considering opening a Chinese factory producing new sports cars, and that the company might partner with Audi to produce an SUV. The supposed entry-level SUV would be produced on FAW-VW Audi's Q5 production line, and would borrow chassis, body and engine technology and parts from the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and VW Touareg.

Reports also quoted Mr. Müller as saying that Porsche is currently planning to move production of its models, including the Cajun SUV, to China.

With the entrance of VW, Audi and Skoda into the Chinese market, the next most likely VW Group brand to make its debut in China would be the Spanish Seat. In fact, Seat is planning to make its maiden appearance at the upcoming Shanghai Auto Show this year. However, much attention is being put on to if and when VW Group's six other brands will enter the market.

In addition, 2011 was a very successful year for luxury SUVs, with Audi selling 32,000 Q5s and 11,000 Q7s, while Mercedes-Benz's total SUV sales were just under 30,000 units. The SUV market as a whole experienced impressive growth of 101.27% from 2009, more then triple the growth rate of other cars.

In the competitive luxury SUV segment, bring Porsche directly into the Chinese market would give VW Group a powerful tool to keep rivals Benz and BMW at bay. While the number of Porsche dealers has increased from 35 to 85, and later growing to 100 dealerships, it is still unclear whether or not the automaker's decision to keep production exclusive to Germany is correct or not.

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