Porsche driven by sports car sales in 2006

Porsche expects to put up record numbers as it closes FY06 on July 31.

Last year, Porsche sold 88,379 vehicles. For 2006, the automaker believes that that number will top 90,000, and the Cayenne SUV is not what's leading the charge. In 2003, the Cayenne was credited as the vehicle driving Porsche to profitability. Back then, the type-996 Porsche 911 was getting a bit long in the tooth, and the 2nd generation Boxster was also not yet on the market.

Fast-forward to 2006, when Cayenne sales are down 16.3 percent versus last year. How can the company be on track for record results with lower performance from the profitable SUV?

Sports cars.

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[Source: Houston Chronicle]

Porsche is a company that builds sports cars -- very good sports cars -- and now, showrooms are flush with new product: the restyled (and now more powerful) Boxster, the Cayman (now in two tasty flavors) and Type-997 911, as beautiful as ever, with boffo performance versions arriving soon. Sports cars are where the demand is, and Porsche is happy to meet it.

According to the Houston Chronicle, 911 sales are up over 21% and Boxster family sales (this includes the Cayman) are up more than 87% through the end of May.

When the Cayenne made its debut, purists were horrified that Porsche would wade into the SUV market, but the model was a success and a nice profit-driver during a time when Porsche's bread-and-butter sports cars were struggling. It remains an important vehicle for Porsche, but it faces increasingly stiff competition from the likes of Range Rover and its own platform-mates, the VW Touareg and the stunning new Audi Q7.

Enthusiasts aren't crying over the slip in Cayenne sales, but they should be interested. A strong Cayenne was -- and is -- good for Porsche, whether fans want to admit it or not.

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