PARIS - Porsche and Volkswagen will take aim at upscale Americans rivals with the two sport-utilities they are developing together.
At least half of the sales of the two vehicles is expected to be in the USA.
Porsche's new sport-utility will be luxurious and sporty, like the Lexus RX300, while Volkswagen will target the Jeep Grand Cherokee and other luxury models.
The vehicles, which are due to go into production, will share only a platform; exteriors, interiors and powertrains will be different, said Porsche Chairman Wendelin Wiedeking.
Volkswagen may decide to use the platform for other vehicles in its group. But Porsche can veto any proposed compromises in the platform's characteristics that undermine its suitability for Porsche's own vehicle, said Wiedeking at the Paris auto show.
He said the Lexus RX300 is closest to Porsche's aspirations for its vehicle. 'They did it well,' he said, but Porsche wants its sport-utility to feel sportier.
The two partners have not decided where to build the sport-utilities. They are looking in Germany and other European countries.
Although the USA has been considered, Porsche is not convinced the additional investment is worthwhile, said Wiedeking.
'As a small manufacturer, we don't want to build another factory, and if the sport-utilities are built in the USA, we would have to invest in a new joint factory,' he said. 'That would mean money coming out of our pockets - money we don't want to spend.'
The USA will account for about 50 percent of Porsche's anticipated sport-utility sales, said Wiedeking.
Volkswagen expects to sell an even higher proportion in the USA, up to 70 percent, said Robert Buechelhofer, vice president of sales and marketing for VW Group's four brands. Porsche will make 20,000 vehicles per year at full capacity, and VW will make 80,000, according to industry sources.
Volkswagen's sport-utility will not compete with such mainstream vehicles as the Chevrolet Blazer, said Buechelhofer. 'If yours is not the first one on the market, it will have to be the best one,' he said. 'Ours will be a luxury sport-utility.'