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Auto blogMon, 28 Apr 2014
Hedge fund managers have been suing Porsche for years now, alleging that the car company lied about its intentions during its failed attempt to take over Volkswagen, a gambit that caused them billion in losses. Over the same period, authorities in Stuttgart built a criminal case against former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking (above, left) and Chief Financial Officer Holger Härter (right), filing charges in December 2012. When those fund plaintiffs lost their most recent court case, one of the dimming lights in the dark and receding tunnel was that the criminal investigation might unearth more evidence about Porsche's actions that could help the plaintiffs in pending litigation.
Bloomberg reports that another light has gone out, though, with a Stuttgart court dismissing the market manipulation case before going to trial because, as a court spokesperson said, "there wasn't enough evidence backing up the charges." When prosecutors get the files back from the court, they have a week to decide to refile, but unless they've been sandbagging evidence that could bolster the case, the only lights at the end of the tunnel will be those welcoming Wiedeking and Härter back to the world of legally unencumbered men.
In late 2010, Volkswagen announced that it would spend the equivalent of $71 billion through 2015 to beef up its product lineup, determined to overtake Toyota in overall sales and profitability by 2018. Each of VW's many brands, in turn, would play its part contributing to a goal of 10 million sales per year. VW-owned Porsche was expected to sell 200,000 vehicles per year by 2018, but with the imminent arrival of the Macan small sport utility vehicle in 2014, the automaker is poised to meet that goal years ahead of schedule, Automotive News reports.
Porsche sold 143,096 cars in 2012, and IHS Automotive predicts Porsche will sell 63,000 Macans in 2014, according to Automotive News, which would make it the brand's best-selling vehicle. Do the math and you can see how Porsche could easily beat original expectations ahead of schedule. But Porsche's sales and marketing boss Bernhard Maier says not so fast: "We will not offer [63,000 Macans] in 2014 as we will still be ramping up production and introducing models top down," he told Automotive News Europe. Whether Porsche surpasses the 200,000 mark early or not, he said, the company will not set a new sales target and will remain committed to its business model.
The Macan shares its architecture with the Audi Q5, but Porsche will be able to charge more for its SUV. Tim Urquhart, a senior analyst at IHS Autmotive, told Automotive News that Porsche can charge 10 to 20 percent more, for what is basically the same SUV, than other VW Group brands. How's that for brand value?
Go back a few years and you may have heard rumors of Porsche heading into Formula One. That never came to pass - or at least, it hasn't yet - but that doesn't mean that it wasn't close to happening. That's how committed to returning to top-level motorsport competition Porsche has become recently.
Autosport reports that just as Porsche was merging fully into the Volkswagen Group, Zuffenhausen was weighing its options for a factory racing program. Le Mans was its favorite, which makes sense, as it remains far and away the most successful constructor in the history of the famous endurance race. But the strategists at Porsche were worried that its new corporate overlords at Volkswagen wouldn't support two LMP1 programs and would favor Audi, which has positively dominated the modern era of endurance racing, coming second only to Porsche in the number of Le Mans victories it has scored to date.
Porsche's Plan B was reportedly to head into Formula One, although it isn't clear if the German automaker was intent on starting its own team, buying an existing one or merely providing engines to other teams. Porsche fielded its own cars in F1 in the late 1950s and early 60s, and returned as an engine supplier with TAG to power McLaren in the 1980s, powering Niki Lauda and Alain Prost to the World Championship in 1984 and 1985.