Whether you're talking vehicle sales, revenue or profits, Porsche is booming.
Strong global demand has Volkswagen Group's sports car brand on course to top its goal of 200,000 annual vehicle sales this year or next -- well ahead of its 2018 deadline.
But the sales surge has some industry watchers worried that Porsche's parent is placing too much emphasis on volume. That could rob the brand of its exclusivity and increase the danger of quality problems.
So far these aren't pressing issues at Porsche, which has been an absolute steal for VW Group since VW paid 8.4 billion euros ($11.2 billion) for the equity while shouldering another $3.3 billion in debt. Porsche made $935 million in operating profit in the first quarter alone.
Even if the VW brand were to have boosted its first-quarter earnings by another half, it still wouldn't have matched Porsche despite selling 26 times as many cars. In the future, Porsche likely will contribute even more than the $3.5 billion it provided to VW last year now that VW executives estimate cost savings from the acquisition will total more than $1.3 billion a year vs. the previous estimate of more than $935 million.
Margins continue to hum along at double-digit rates, and perceived workmanship is among the industry's highest.
Porsche came in first for the second straight year in J.D. Power's U.S. Initial Quality Study, which examines problems experienced by vehicle owners during the first 90 days of ownership. The Boxster, 911 and Panamera ranked at the top of their segments, while the Cayenne finished second only to the Lincoln MKX. Porsche's Leipzig, Germany, plant also took home J.D. Power's award for the best European plant in terms of build quality. A separate J.D. Power annual survey for Germany also placed Porsche at the top.
"The acid test is customer satisfaction," Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller said in June after the results were published. "For us, the ratings are both a confirmation as well as an incentive to continue along our path to quality growth."
Porsche expects another sales and profit boost as it benefits from the global rollout of its new Macan, a mid-sized crossover derived from sibling brand Audi's Q5. Starting in 2015, the company plans to build 50,000 Macans a year, but that total could rise as the waiting time to get the crossover is already six months.
When Mueller became Porsche's CEO in 2010, he concluded that doubling sales volumes to more than 200,000 cars by 2018 was achievable without having to sacrifice its operating margin target of at least 15 percent.
"Taking our exclusivity and our premium standards as a given, this development will be driven by expanding our product portfolio and our worldwide market presence," he said at the time.
Mueller says that out of every 1,000 cars sold around the world only two or three are Porsches, the implication being it will stay that way. Now he's set to meet his 2018 volume goal three years early, and operating margins, which have ranged between 17 and 19 percent since 2010, remain strong.