BERLIN (Bloomberg) -- Matthias Mueller, the new CEO of Porsche AG, faces his first test with the introduction of a new line of smaller Boxster sports cars.
Mueller, 57, is tasked with reviving the luxury-carmaker's vehicle lineup. He will replace current Porsche CEO Michael Macht, who succeeds Jochem Heizmann as Volkswagen AG's production chief starting Oct. 1.
Mueller led product management at VW's Audi luxury brand for four years through 2007 before moving to the parent company.
Deliveries of the Boxster and Cayman mid-engine sports cars fell 12 percent to 7,630 in the first nine months, or less than half of Porsche's best-selling Cayenne model.
To stop the drop, Porsche in February introduced the 53,100 euro ($67,000) Boxster Spyder, which features a 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine and is designed to be driven with its textile roof down.
“We have to make progress with Porsche,” VW CEO Martin Winterkorn told reporters on Tuesday at an event near Munich. “Mueller is the right person to deliver it. He has excellent ideas and a very clear concept of how new products have to be brought in line.”
Mueller's appointment also underscores Winterkorn's push to complete a merger with the sports-car maker next year.
Volkswagen, which aims to surpass Toyota Motor Corp. in deliveries and profitability by 2018, is taking over Porsche Automobil Holding SE's carmaking operations as the companies build on a partnership that includes sharing vehicle platforms.
Porsche wants to expand its four-model lineup to double sales in the medium term to 150,000 cars and SUVs.
Deliveries in the nine months through April declined 0.1 percent to 53,605 vehicles. Full-year sales may still exceed the 75,238 deliveries of fiscal 2009 as a new version of the Cayenne SUV, its best-selling model, and a six-cylinder Panamera car reach showrooms, the company said June 18.
The Cayenne shares its chassis and major parts with Volkswagen's Touareg and the Q7 SUV made by Audi. Volkswagen also makes the Panamera's body.
“Mueller was very successful at Audi, which entered new niches when he was responsible for product strategy,” said Daniel Schwarz, an analyst in Frankfurt at Commerzbank AG. “He can now apply that to Porsche.”
VW CEO predicts record 2010
VW, Europe's largest carmaker, increased first-half sales by 15 percent to more than 3.5 million cars and sport-utility vehicles worldwide, Winterkorn said on Tuesday. Sales of VW brand cars exceeded 2 million, he said.