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Manufacture of the next-generation Porsche Panamera could be moving, if a report from Reuters is true. The current-generation Panamera range has its bodies welded together and painted at a Volkswagen facility in Hanover before being shipped to Leipzig where final assembly takes place.
According to Reuters, Porsche is looking to cut VW out of the equation and focus production of the Panamera in Leipzig. While this could cost 800 of the 14,300 workers at Hanover their jobs, it's not entirely clear what Porsche stands to gain by the move. It recently invested 50- million euros (about $680 million at today's rates) on a paint and body shop for its Leipzig factory, ostensibly so the facility could have Macan production underway by that car's spring 2014 on-sale date. If the facility was also designed with next-generation Panamera production in mind, then Porsche's decision to put all of its eggs in one basket could make a lot of sense. It currently ships the semi-completed Panameras from Hanover to Leipzig, a distance of around 160 miles by road, and presumably it's a costly and time-consuming process.
The Leipzig factory produced 27,000 Panameras last year, although it's unclear just what its production capacity really is. Besides the Panamera and the upcoming Macan, the factory also builds the Porsche Cayenne.
Though it may have expanded into crossovers and sedans, Porsche is still a company with racing at its heart. You might even argue that Cayenne and Panamera sales only serve to fund the company's motorsports activities. Competition-spec 911 coupes still make up a large portion of the grid in any GT racing series, and those activities are presided over by the Porsche GT division (separate from its LMP1 program), which has just announced a changing of the guard.
Porsche's GT unit - which is responsible both for racing models like the 911 RSR and road-going models like the 911 GT3 - has until now been steered by Hartmut Kristen (pictured above, left) in his capacity as Vice President of Motorsport at Porsche AG. During his ten-year tenure, Kristen gave birth to the RS Spyder that competed in the American Le Mans Series and the pioneering 911 GT3 R Hybrid. He also fostered what Porsche characterizes as "arguably the most comprehensive youth development program in motor racing" and saw the marque return to Le Mans last year with a dominant 1-2 class victory.
Kristen, now 59 years old, is leaving the German automaker, but will remain an advisor to the company's R&D department. Taking over as VP of Motorsport will be Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, who has until now been head of the 918 Spyder project (a responsibility he will continue). Walliser (pictured above, right) was previously Porsche's general manager for motorsport strategies and will now be responsible for Porsche's GT projects on and off the track, while Fritz Enzinger continues at the helm of the LMP1 program in pursuit of better results next year than the 919 Hybrid achieved at Le Mans last month.
Meet the facelifted Porsche Cayenne. Our eagle-eyed spy shooters captured this example of Porsche's freshened SUV virtually devoid of camo, giving us our clearest look yet at what the eventual mid-cycle work will do to the strong-selling Cayenne.
The overall changes do, indeed, look minor, with a reprofiled intake being the most obvious item. The headlights are still covered, so we don't know what kind of jeweling has been done, but the shape does appear identical to the current model. Overall, the changes appear totally in line with a mid-cycle refresh.
As we explained previously, a plug-in Cayenne is on the way. It will join a crop of engines that is likely to be similar to what's on offer today, with naturally aspirated, turbocharged, hybrid and diesel variants released over time.