Porsche aims to build 100,000 cars a year

Plant in the North America is being considered; carmaker will expand in Russian and Middle East

Stuttgart, Germany. Porsche's CEO Wendelin Wiedeking promises further growth for the world's most profitable automaker. "In two to three years we will be building 100,000 vehicles a year based on our three model ranges," the manager said during the company's recent earnings press conference.

Porsche also plans to expand its sales network in emerging markets such as China, where the carmaker only has eight locations. New dealerships are also planned in Russia, Chile, Mexico and the Middle East.

Officials with the carmaker say that having the Cayenne SUV allows it to enter markets that do not have a "sports car culture."

The automaker has already gotten off to a strong start in the first four months of the current year. Unit sales are up 7 percent to 23,546 vehicles and revenues have jumped 4 percent to 1.98 billion euros.

Wiedeking did not want to disclose exact target figures for the 2004/2005 business year, which ends July 31, 2005, he simply said: "We have got big plans again."

Porsche sold a record 76,827 cars during its 2003/2004 business year. The Cayenne led with 39,913 sales followed by the 911, 23,704 units; the Boxster, 12,988; and the Carrera GT, 222. As a result, the company set new records for revenues, 6.36 billion euros, and profit before tax, 1.088 billion euros.

Hedged until 2008

Porsche's No. 1 market remains North America. Sales there increased 8 percent to 31,356 units during its last business year. With the US dollar at an all-time low against the euro, the carmaker protects itself against losing money on its North American sales because of currency fluctuations by hedging.

Financial director Holger Haerter said the corporation is hedged against the weak dollar until its 2007/2008 business year.

Another way Porsche is considering to protect itself against a weak dollar by building a production location in North America. "Natural hedging is an option," Wiedeking said. But Wiedeking is reluctant to have a plant in North America because he said the "Made in Germany" quality seal is important for many customers.

"However," he said, "one cannot ignore this option forever."

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