Porsche AG has approved production of a four-seat sedan as the brand's fourth nameplate.
The rear-drive car with a front-mounted engine will be called Panamera and debut in 2009. The name comes from the historic La Carrera Panamericana long-distance race, Porsche says.
Contrary to speculation over the past few months, Porsche will design and build the Panamera without a partner. The Cayenne SUV is a joint project with Volkswagen AG.
Porsche expects to produce 20,000 Panameras a year. About 42 percent are expected to go to the United States.
The Panamera will be produced at the Leipzig, Germany, plant where Porsche builds the Cayenne and the Carrera GT supercar. Porsche says it will self-fund the $1.20 billion investment for the Panamera, which includes development costs.
Porsche expects the Panamera project to create 600 jobs at its Leipzig factory and another 400 positions at its plants in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen and Weissach, Germany.
Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking says the Panamera's platform will be developed at the Porsche r&d center in Weissach: "There are no plans for a joint venture with another carmaker, but to ensure the profitability of this new model line, we will cooperate more closely than so far with selected system suppliers."
Porsche would not disclose any details about the dimensions of the Panamera or its engines and transmissions. German car magazines have speculated that the car will extensively borrow components from the Cayenne, including engines, transmissions and the all-wheel-drive systems.
"The Panamera is a perfect fit for Porsche. It has all the typical DNA characteristics of a genuine sports car," Weideking said in a statement released today after the carmaker's supervisory and management boards approved the project.
Porsche did not give a price range for the Panamera.
Porsche released a sketch of the car with the announcement.
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