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Cayenne offsets falling 911 sales

Porsche has seen profits rise as strong sales of the Cayenne sports utility vehicle offset a sharp drop in demand for the Boxster and 911.

The German company says global Boxster sales are down 44% and 911 sales by 26%, but it has been buoyed by the Cayenne, which sold 16,890 to push total volumes up 31 per cent to 32,410. Porsche enjoyed even greater success in the UK, selling 7919 vehicles last year, up 40.8%.

“For the complete 2003/2004 fiscal year the company expects group sales to reach approximately 75,000 vehicles, compared to 66,803 the previous year, and further growth in turnover and earnings,” said Porsche in a statement.

It means pre-tax profits for the first half of the financial year are up 11% to £143m on a turnover of £1.9bn – up 28%.

Dealers, who have invested thousands of pounds to meet stringent showroom requirements, received a boost after Porsche launched a half-price entry Cayenne with a 250bhp V6 engine sourced from Volkswagen. Priced £34,500 on the road, the model rivals the VW Touareg and BMW X5.

Critics warn that while V6 sales are expected to be high, the move might damage the marque's reputation and contribute to sliding sales of its sportscars. They are also concerned over Porsche's move into more mainstream motoring with the high performance four-door coupe due to take on rivals like the Jaguar XJR, BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG later this year.

They suggest rising volumes will lead to lower profit margins for the world's most lucrative carmaker.

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