CALISTOGA, Calif. -- Loyalists might be nervous about the 2017 Porsche 911's move to turbocharging, but the brand's U.S. leader doesn't expect that to hurt the iconic sports car's sales.
In fact, sales of the re-engineered 911 in 2016 could exceed last year's 9,898 deliveries, said Klaus Zellmer, CEO of Porsche Cars North America.
"It's going to be close, but I think we can match the previous year's sales despite the fact that we don't have the GT models yet," Zellmer said at a press event here.
The 911's main models arrived at U.S. dealerships in March and April, but Zellmer noted variants such as the GT3 and GT3 RS won't be available this year. Annual sales could go even higher when those arrive, he said. Porsche 911 U.S. sales peaked at 12,493 in 2007.
The 911 advertising campaign, with TV, print, digital, social media and movie-theater components, is running at full force, highlighting the performance gains that come with the 2017 model. Zellmer declined to reveal the dollar spend.
Porsche executives are banking on the availability of cars to test drive to alleviate any skittishness potential buyers might feel about the 911's move to a standard twin-turbocharged engine from a naturally aspirated one.
"Whenever we change something significantly on the car, people get very, very nervous," Zellmer said. "They think it might change the character. You see it in the forums and in the club scene that people are wondering: Do the turbos take away some of the sound, some of the visceral qualities of our cars?"
But those who've gotten a chance to drive the car are giving Porsche positive feedback on the 911's performance, he said.
"All in all, it's been received pretty well."