German car maker Porsche will look at adding one or two new products to its palette next year but will not dilute its exclusive brand, President Wendelin Wiedeking said on Wednesday (6/12/00).

The company has high hopes for its new Cayenne sport utility vehicle, Wiedeking, who is also chief executive officer, said in an interview with Reuters.

"After we have introduced the Cayenne, we must consider what our next step will be. We've not defined or analysed this... but next year we will discuss what the products will be, what fits with our brand image," he said.

"Not at every corner should you find a Porsche, that's a must," Wiedeking said.

Porsche expects the Cayenne to unlock important new markets in the Middle East and South America and Wiedeking reckoned it would sell 25,000 annually, not only doing well in traditional markets but also driving sales in relatively untapped areas.

"I think with the Cayenne there will be some difference in market potential in the future. No doubt about it, the Middle East is already strong but for the Cayenne it will be stronger. South America as well. There are a lot of countries where our market potential will look different (thanks to the SUV) in comparison with today's sports car market shares."

Porsche will decide in 2001 whether to build a fourth and even a fifth new product line. The company has potential capacity at its new Leipzig plant where it will build the Cayenne.

Wiedeking said production including the Cayenne, to be launched in 2002, will hit 75,000, or maybe a little more, but any further expansion might start to dilute the brand's exclusivity.

Currently the company produces the Boxster and the classically styled 911 series. It is also on the brink of building the Carrera GT, which it describes as a "top performance sports car."

Wiedeking said the Carrera GT was not considered a new product line but "a niche within a niche," because its market is very limited given its likely cost of between 700,000 and 800,000 marks ($US316,900).

Porsche will decide next Spring whether to make the car, unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in September.

Investors have been worrying that sales in the US, which accounted for a little under half of Porsche sales at just over 23,000 units, might be vulnerable to an economic slowdown.

"If the economic situation changed dramatically it would be bad, but we don't think this will happen," Wiedeking said.

"There is no question that we have to watch the US market closely...we know our products are still strong. Some dealers are sold out until 2003," he said.

Porsche said earlier on Wednesday it expected to raise its sales for fiscal year 2000/2001 to over 50,000 cars and that revenues would also be higher than the 7.134 billion marks for the year ending July 31, 2000.

In the first four months of the current financial year revenues rose 14 percent to about 2.15 billion marks but these should not be extrapolated for the full year because of seasonal factors, Wiedeking told a press conference.

Wiedeking has been tipped as a possible successor to troubled DaimlerChrysler leader Juergen Schrempp, under attack from disgruntled shareholders.

But Wiedeking, whose contract at Porsche expires in 2002, said he was happy in his current position.

"It isn't a question for me at the moment," he said.

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