STUTTGART -- Porsche confirmed it will build more variants of its Mission E full-electric sedan, including one based on the recently unveiled Mission E Cross Turismo design, as the brand readies for a seismic industry shift to battery-powered models.
Full-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will account for about a quarter of the division's global deliveries in 2025, Porsche said Friday at a press briefing.
Porsche is set to begin selling the battery-only Mission E sports car next year. The automaker presented the four-door Cross Turismo concept version at the Geneva auto show earlier this month when CEO Oliver Blume said there was "a good prospect for series production."
Porsche said it will invest some of its record profits on derivatives of the Mission E. "We are using our high earnings level to support an unprecedented future development plan," Blume said at the company's annual press conference.
Porsche has doubled its electric-car development budget to 6 billion euros ($7.4 billion) by 2022. The money will be spent on derivatives of the Mission E, hybridization and electrification of the current model range, as well as on developing a charging infrastructure and smart mobility, it said.
Last year Porsche's global sales increased by 4 percent to 246,375 vehicles. Operating profit rose 7 percent to 4.1 billion euros with its operating margin rising to 17.6 percent from 17.4 percent the year before. Rapid volume growth in recent years has been largely driven by adding the compact Macan SUV to the lineup.
Porsche is Volkswagen Group's most profitable marque by return on sales and this year celebrates the 70th anniversary of its first sports car. It has embarked on a fundamental overhaul to sustain its industry-leading margins in a time of unprecedented change.
Tightening emissions rules have forced automakers to develop hybrid and full-electric vehicles, even as demand for the models remains small. Porsche is particularly exposed to the emissions crackdown, as all of its cars feature powerful engines.
"For the next 10 years, Porsche is banking on three pillars: optimized combustion-engine cars, plug-in hybrid models and purely electric-powered sport cars," Blume said in a speech at the Porsche museum near the company's Stuttgart headquarters. "The world's regions are developing differently. Therefore, we're preparing to be as flexible as possible."
Safeguarding Porsche's profits is vital for VW Group because Audi, the division that's the group's largest earnings contributor, is wrestling with the fallout from the diesel-emissions scandal that erupted in 2015. That unit has lost ground in both sales volume and profitability to rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Porsche and Audi plan to deepen cooperation to reap development-cost savings in the three-digit million-euro range.
Strict spending discipline is needed to offset the "enormous investments" in new technology, Chief Financial Officer Lutz Meschke told reporters.
Porsche said Friday it aims for "stable" deliveries and revenue this year. Still, the introduction of a revamped version of the Cayenne SUV in China and the U.S., Porsche's two largest markets, is set to bolster sales.
Demand for Porsche's plug-in hybrid-car offerings has is promising, with some 60 percent of buyers of the updated Panamera four-door coupe in Europe opting for the electric-gasoline version. The technology for the next generation of Porsche's iconic 911 sports car will also allow integration of a battery that could provide extra boost.
Uncertainty triggered by Brexit negotiations is complicating planning for the manufacturer as the UK is an important sales region, Blume said. Volatile markets, economic and geopolitical risks will also require Porsche to expand its hedging against currency fluctuations, he said.