DETROIT -- Porsche is looking closely into adding a plug-in hybrid version of its iconic 911 sports car, the company’s top sales and marketing executive said.
The company already offers a plug-in hybrid in its 918 Spyder convertible, and plug-in versions of the Panamera sports sedan. A plug-in version of the Cayenne crossover arrives this year.
Bernhard Maier, Porsche’s chief for sales and marketing, said the company is “investigating” the idea of a 911 hybrid, and would need to be careful to produce car that delivers the kind of performance customers expect of a car with the 911 badge.
If the idea is greenlighted, “it will have to be a true Porsche and a true sports car,” he said on Tuesday at the Automotive News World Congress here.
Plug-ins make up a sizable portion of the company’s total sales. About 15 percent of all Panameras sold in the U.S. are hybrids, Maier said. Hybrid models makes up about 45 percent of all Porsches sold in Norway, which offers generous sales and tax incentives on emission-free vehicles, he added.
Porsche sold 47,007 vehicles in the U.S. in 2014, up 11 percent from 2013. Globally it sold 190,000 vehicles. Maier declined to say if the company expects to exceed 200,000 in sales this year. “We are not volume-driven,” he said.
In his address at the World Congress, Maier also said the company is preparing to open the two Porsche Experience Centers it has been building in the U.S. The 1.7-mile (2.7km) test track and event center that is part of its new U.S. headquarters outside Atlanta will open in the spring.
Maier said 90 percent of Porsche’s American customers will be able to reach the Atlanta center with a two-hour flight. A second experience center in Southern California will open late this year or in early 2016.
Porsche is also moving ahead with plans to build a customer center in China and is considering adding others near Moscow and Istanbul. The centers are supposed to give Porsche customers a destination where they can experience Porsche vehicles and immerse themselves in the brand.
The company also intends to stay away from adding small cars or moving downmarket, as other luxury brands have done. The Macan small SUV and the mid-engine Boxster are likely to remain the smallest vehicles in its lineup.
“To keep exclusivity, we shouldn’t start [the product line] below $50,000,” he said.