PARIS Porsche said it will be targeting younger buyers with a new model of its redesigned Panamera sedan, as the sports carmaker continues to branch out from its racing roots.
Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE)-owned Porsche, traditionally known for high-performance two-door sports cars, said it will offer the Panamera as a shooting brake - a type of vehicle body which combines the sleek lines and low roof of a coupe but adds the practicality and boot space of an estate.
Porsche ventured into sport-utility vehicles in 2002 and last year announced investment of 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) in its first all-electric model.
Porsche will unveil the Panamera offshoot at the Geneva auto show in March and start selling the model in the second half of next year, two sources at Porsche said on Thursday.
"With this car, we believe we will appeal to slightly younger and more active customers," sales chief Detlev von Platen said in an interview at the Paris auto show, declining to comment on launch dates.
The new model will compete with the Mercedes-Benz (DAIGn.DE) CLS shooting brake and mainly court younger buyers in Europe and China as demand in the United States for such vehicles is still lagging, von Platen said.
Porsche drivers in Europe and the U.S. are in their early 50s on average and in their 30s in China, which last year surpassed the U.S. as the brand's biggest market, a spokesman said.
Porsche, a key contributor to VW group profit, hopes to be as successful with the revamped Panamera as it was with the first-generation model which sold about 20,000 units per annum during its 7-year lifespan, von Platen said.
Separately, the executive said Porsche wanted to manage its growth since 2011 rather than focus on new volume gains. Global sales at the Stuttgart-based manufacturer almost doubled to 225,000 cars last year from 119,000 in 2011.
"It's not just volume but also the entire company and processes which have become more complex," von Platen said.
"At some point that needs to be consolidated, that's perfectly normal."
Porsche will in future also build Bentley cars at its German plant in Leipzig as part of a VW-led push to improve cooperation among the premium brands, von Platen said. Leipzig assembles the Panamera and the Cayenne and Macan SUVs.
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(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)