NEWS AND UPDATES
ABOUT THIS COMPANY:An instantly recognisable name worldwide, Porsche is associated with sleek cars, wealth, luxury design and top performance. Since Ferdinand Porsche produced his first electric car over a century ago, Porsche's reputation has steadily risen and it has long been one of the most revered names in the automotive industry. A tribute to its excellent craftmanship is that Porsche's sales figures for the past decade have risen steadily, peaking in 2007 at 7.36 billion euros. In terms of cars sold, this translates to 97,515 units of all Porsche models sold in 2007, up from 96,794 in 2006, and up from 36,686 units sold a decade ago in 1997/98, showing very solid growth. With the classic 911 series holding firm as Porsche's top selling model, the second generation of Porsche's all-terrain vehicle Cayenne also attracts the eye of international markets, bringing in just over a third of Porsche's revenue. With the auto wizard's Boxster series bringing up the rear, the international presence of the group is enjoying a smooth ride.
Despite Porsche's long-held reputation for excellence in engineering, Ferdinand Porsche actually learnt his craft at a different car company, Austrian firm Austro-Daimler, where in 1906 he was made Technical Director. In 1923, he unveiled his design for the Mercedes Compressor Sports Car, and with that creation behind him, he went on to open an office in Stuttgart in 1931 to consult on vehicle engineering and design. The engineering maestro developed the prototype Volkswagen Beetle along with the first of what was to become a long line of his own brand of cars, the 365 sports car in 1948. The involvement with Volkswagen has stretched out through history; Volkswagen owns 30.6 percent of Porsche as of spring 2008, and Porsche, in return, owns approximately 31 percent of Volkswagen.
Ferdinand Porsche died in 1951 and his son Ferry took over the business, which was growing in size and reputation as Porsche sports cars claimed victory after victory in motor racing throughout the bulk of the 20th century. In 1972, the company prepared to go public and officially floated as "Dr. Ing h.c. F. Porsche AG" in 1973. Managing to lead the way in safety as well as on the racetrack, in 1991, Porsche was the first carmaker in Germany to introduce airbags for car drivers and frontseat passengers as standard equipment.
Wendelin the wunderkind
In 1993, the man who still helms Porsche took over in the company's front seat. Dr Wendelin Wiedeking. Wiedeking, who has a background in mechanical engineering, has steered Porsche into being a steadily successful business during his long reign at the top. In its 2007 Annual Report, Porsche proclaims its confidence about the sports car market, with North America an extremely strong market and sales in upcoming markets such as China and Russia doing brisk business. In 2007, unit sales in export markets outside North America rose by 9.2 percent from 45,442 units to 49,625. The company also has good news for graduates, both design dreamers and those who want to get their hands dirty, as the 1.6 percent increase in employee numbers from 2006 to 2007 was concentrated in its research and development unit and at its Leipzig plant.
In early 2008, Porsche took it upon itself to oppose the rise of London's "congestion charge", introduced by London's then mayor Ken Livingstone in order to limit vehicle access to congested central London. Livingstone's plans to raise the charge from eight British pounds to 25 British pounds for high emission vehicles found a fiery adversary in the German company. Porsche challenged the proposed rise in court in April 2008, fuelling angry responses from the congestion charge lobby as well as from green campaigners Friends of the Earth.
With Porsche claiming that the tax is not only unfair but also counter productive in terms of its environmental impact, it has science behind it according to a study by King's College London, commissioned by Transport for London, a rise in the congestion charge would raise carbon dioxide emissions in outer London as drivers take more circuitous routes to their destinations.
While opposing the congestion charge for high-emission vehicles, Porsche is also making headway in manufacturing lower-emission vehicles. In 2008, the company planned to present a new line of environmentally friendly cars at the Geneva Auto Salon. Using an environmentally friendly fuel called E10, the new line of Cayenne models uses at least 15 percent less fuel than its predecessors. Porsche has outlined its eco-friendly policy as producing cars that will combine ahead-of-the-curve driving technology with the most environmentally efficient technologies available.
Too Porsche to push
In June 2007, Porsche underwent a big structural change, adopting the supranational European legal status SE, making it a European stock corporation. This new organisational set-up means that Porsche AG becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of the holding company Porsche Automobil Holding SE. Numerous global subsidiaries now exist under the umbrella of this holding company.
In March 2007, Porsche upped its stake of Volkswagen shares to 30.6 percent, triggering a takeover bid according to German law. A "Volkswagen Law", however, had been in place which protected Volkswagen from takeovers by capping shareholders' voting rights at 20 percent, whatever the size of their holding. The European Court of Justice struck down this law in October 2007 and while Porsche is now hopeful that a takeover bid for Volkswagen is not far off, further changes in the law regarding Volkswagen's shareholding structure and voting rights are still needed before Porsche can launch a bid.
From the Community