August 2011: what is Porsche up to at the moment?

Porsche is not phasing out the 997 just yet. Nor is it admitting the 991 is actually on the way. 

That’s despite prototype tests of the 911, in which many state it will be one of the stars of Frankfurt. Porsche hasn’t yet revealed what its Frankfurt plans will be, and made scant reference to the car so many have already driven.

It won’t be until the end of August that we’ll officially know Porsche’s Frankfurt star will be the 991 911.

Surely, though, customers have long known it is imminent? And surely they’re stopping buying 911s as a result? Apparently not: in June, Porsche delivered 1% more 911 than it did the year before. Sales in the first half of 2011 have topped the 10k mark. It easily outsells other sports-line Porsches: the Boxster sold 3800, the Cayman, just 2300.

That’s why, in the UK, all current 997 variants remain available to buy. “They’re built to order so if one comes in, we can accommodate”, revealed a spokesman. “There is still a waiting list for a Porsche 911.”

Tellingly, though, the cars most people are waiting for over here are the special editions. If anything will make you buy a runout 911, it’s the combination of limited-edition appeal, bespoke styling and a whole host of value-added kit. Both Black editions and GTS 911 variants are keeping dealer handover areas busy.

Indeed, the four-wheel drive GTS has only just gone on sale. Yes, despite there ‘possibly’ being a new model on the horizon, Porsche is still rolling out the new model introductions.

As for which models go first, four-wheel drive and turbo versions are likely to last longer than the rear-drive variants. The 991 test mule is rear-drive and, in a reverse of Porsche 964 sequencing, it will come ahead of later four-wheel drive versions.

Multi-model Porsche dealers

Nowadays, dealers have plenty more besides to keep them busy. Although the 911 remains the best-selling Porsche in the UK – as it is for several other markets – ‘new age’ Porsche Cayenne and Panamera models are winning increasing sales too.

But in what split? For the Panamera, one third of sales are six-cylinder cars – the 300hp 3.6-litre V6 in either rear-drive or four-wheel drive guise.

That’s set to change massively, with the introduction of the Panamera Diesel. In a flash, a full 50% of the UK Panamera split will consist of Diesel models, despite it being offered in just one rear-drive form.

Some of those sales will be displaced petrol V6 sales, but not all of them. Could the Panamera Diesel thus soon lead to V6 sales taking two thirds of UK volume?

It won’t be the same everywhere. Europe is a key market for the Diesel, and other countries will take 40% of sales – but, overall, it will comprise just 10% of Panamera volume. That’s the influence of the US, Japan and China for you, none of which get diesel. They like V8s and hybrids, and will take those Panameras in droves.

Porsche is changing, fast. The 911 will long continue, and will also remain Porsche’s pinnacle. But it’s no longer the most important car for the business heads. The 911 made Porsche’s reputation but it’s the Cayenne and Panamera that today make its money.

Oh, and here’s a fact you may not know about the Panamera either. The biggest, mightiest, visually-massive four-door Porsche is actually lighter than the all-aluminium Jaguar XJ. Despite only the axles, doors, bonnet, wings and rear lid actually being made from aluminium…

+ Porsche misses obvious weight-saving tweak

+ Porsche makes cranky Cayenne cool

+ BMW April Fool brilliance (again)