STUTTGART -- German luxury carmaker Porsche is set to develop its eagerly awaited fourth model line -- already named the Panamera -- by itself rather than seek a partner, industry sources say.
That would mark a departure from its strategy with the Cayenne sport-utility vehicle, which it developed with German rival Volkswagen and which VW makes in raw form in Slovakia before handing over to Porsche for final assembly in Leipzig.
Porsche says it will await the Frankfurt car show in September to reveal its hand for the fourth line, but industry sources said last week there was little doubt it would proceed with the plan it has kicked around for more than three years.
"The fourth model line is coming," one executive said. "Porsche would lose face if the fourth model line does not come on to the market."
Much is at stake for the new model that would complement the classic Porsche 911 sports car range, the mid-engined Boxster roadster and the Cayenne, which has been a smash hit since its launch in late 2002.
Demand has been such that production of the Cayenne is near full annual capacity of 41,000 units -- around half of the more than 80,000 units Porsche aims to sell in its current fiscal year to July.
"We have to invent a vehicle like the Cayenne again," one Porsche manager said, although he would not comment on market expectations that the new car will have four doors.
Porsche, which has the car world's richest profit margins, will have to invest mightily in the project before revenue from it starts flowing in 2009.
But it has the muscle for this. It was earning the equivalent of around 85 million euros ($101.9 million) when it decided to build the Cayenne in 1997. It earned more than a billion euros before tax in 2003/04, and analysts expect that to rise 13.5 pecent to 1.24 billion this year.
People familiar with the project say Porsche intends to develop and build the car on its own, perhaps based on building blocks provided by suppliers such as ThyssenKrupp Automotive, Boxster manufacturer Valmet or Germany's Karmann.
The sources dismissed media reports that Porsche would cooperate with Magna Steyr in Austria on the project.
The Porsche plant in Leipzig has plenty of room to expand output to handle the new car.