Analysts might disagree, but Porsche AG says the sports car market is not dying and the company is rolling out several new products to prove it.
Porsche is set later this model year to introduce the Boxster S. The roadster gets a 3.2L 250-hp engine capable of 162 mph. That's 13 mph faster than the traditional Boxster.
The company also will introduce the 911 Turbo with an engine based on the one that helped the company win in Le Mans last year. This beefy twin-turbocharger powerplant propels the car 0-60 in four seconds. The 911 also looks meaner with 18-inch wheels, a biplane wing on the rear decklid and a more dramatic forward spoiler.
The cars are intended to help Porsche capture its projected share of the U.S. sports car market, estimated to reach 140,000 units by 2004. That's an 18% increase over last year's sales.
During the past five years the automaker's sales have increased 359% from 3,700 units in 1993 to 17,000 units sold last year, says Richard S. Ford, Porsche Cars North America executive vice president and chief operating officer.
But the company might be too optimistic. The Economist Intelligence Units says the global sports car market will drop 21% by 2004. Instead, it says the sport/utility vehicle segment will grow about 25% by 2004.
By this time, Porsche, too, will be a player in the SUV market. The German automaker will debut its own luxury utility vehicle in 2002. Developed with fellow German, Volkswagen AG, the SUV will "in every respect still be a Porsche," Mr. Ford says.