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Porsche courts Panamera purchasers

Wait and see: The new Porsche Panamera has no queue of eager buyers in Australia - yet.

Most Panamera owners will be new to Porsche, but orders are not flooding in

21 Apr 2009

PORSCHE says 90 per cent of Panamera customers will come from other brands and says its European order bank is healthy ahead of its September release there, but the same cannot be said in Australia.

Porsche Cars Australia (PCA) is yet to take any orders for the four-door Panamera, which has been on sale since the release of pricing two months ago ahead of its nationwide release on October 3.

“There has been a lot of interest, a lot of genuine interest, but no pre-orders that I’m aware of yet, which is to be expected,” revealed PCA public relations manager Paul Ellis.

“It is a new car – people want to wait and see what it’s like. With a 911 you know what you’re going to get so people do tend to put their money down early, but with an all-new car perhaps you want to see it and drive it first.

“We’re not aggressively pursuing pre-orders for the car at this stage because we don’t want to push it. People will want to see and drive the car before they buy an all-new model, which is normal.”

Mr Ellis said PCA continues intensive direct marketing for the Panamera, which he said had proved successful so far.

25 center image “We have done a lot of marketing, but a lot of the marketing has been below the line – highly targeted marketing to highly targeted databases.

“We went into the market with a campaign that was quite generic at first and then asked people if they wanted more information. Those that did received more detailed information, so we’re sort of holding their hands and walking them through the process, which has been very successful.

“There are no orders that I’m aware of – there might be a few here and there – but I wouldn’t say that’s an issue at all.”

Porsche admits that some Panamera sales will substitute for Cayenne purchases, but says most Panamera buyers are expected to be conquested from brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Maserati.

“The Cayenne is a different style of car and attracts a different style of buyer because it’s very much seen as a family car,” said Mr Ellis.

“The Panamera will not become a family car because it’s a four-seater and very much a sporting limousine. Cayenne purchasers and Panamera purchasers are different customers. If there is any (sales substitution) it will be negligible,” he said.

Porsche AG executive vice-president – sales and marketing Klaus Berning said the crossover rate could be 10 per cent.

“We know from our (market research) clinics that cannibalisation between the Panamera and Cayenne will the less than 10 per cent,” said.

“The task is to win over 90 per cent of customers.”

Of that figure, Porsche says many customers will be current and former Porsche sportscar owners.

“First there is the Porsche group, who might be customers currently in a 911 or who may have outgrown a 911,” said Mr Ellis. ““The kids a re a bit older and bigger and the 911 doesn’t suit them any more so they may have gone out and bought a rival four-door model, but who will come back to Porsche now that we have a car that meets their requirements.

“But we think the majority of Panamera sales will come from people that are new to Porsche. These are customers who currently drive high-end S-class, 7 Series and even Maserati Quattroporte models,” he said.

Porsche dismisses comparisons with the relatively low-volume Aston Martin Rapide, just 3000 of which will be produced from next year.

Mercedes-Benz and Maserati started the four-door ‘coupe’ craze with their CLS and Quattroporte respectively, and while BMW has cancelled development of a similar vehicle concept, Audi has committed to the production of a vehicle based on the A7 Sportback concept.

“The Panamera doesn’t copy any other car – it creates a new car in a new segment,” says Mr Ellis. “It is both limousine and sportscar. Our competitors are either one or the other.

“The Aston is almost a sub-niche brand and their volumes are quite small. Yes it’s on our radar and we’re mindful of it, but we don’t expect it to impact Panamera too greatly.

“It’s not for us to question what other brands are doing, but we can tell you nothing drives like the Panamera. Take any of its perceived rivals and go to the Nurburgring or drive from Melbourne to Sydney on B-grade roads and let’s see which car comes out on top.

“I don’t know that any of our competitors offer the degree of space that the Panamera offers. There won’t be any issues with space, even for back-seat occupants that are six and half foot tall. Can you say that about any of our competitors that have sporting bent? I’m not sure.

“We’re very comfortable launching this car, because it is a stand-out car and it is not a copy or an imitation of any other car in the market. It really is both a luxury limousine and an all-out sportscar, as you’ll discover when you drive it.”

Read more:

First look inside: Panamera performance revealed

Rapid Aston rains on Panamera’s parade

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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