Porsche to Raise Stake in Vw

by : Anthony Fontanelle

Porsche AG recently announced that it is prepared to raise further its stake in fellow German carmaker Volkswagen AG and is ready "for anything", its chief financial officer has said.

"We have ensured several options in order to further increase our stake in VW, if there is demand," Holger Harter told FT Deutschland, the Financial Times' sister paper. "That prepares us for anything." After having exercised an option to purchase a further 3.6 percent in March, Porsche holds 30.9 percent in VW.

In the wake of planned environmental legislation by the European Union, which is to set strict carbon emission limits for carmakers, growing influence at VW is becoming increasingly important for Porsche, MSNBC reported.

As a relatively small carmaker that sells mainly high-emission vehicles, Porsche could be hit by the new rules. But provided the planned legislation allows carbon emissions assessments to be made for the whole group, VW could help Porsche to reach its target, the report continued.

The condition for this, however, would be the full consolidation of VW, Harter said, "and that is only possible if we go above 50 percent." Until now, VW had been helpful mainly in the development of new models, he said. "The co-operation with the VW group enables us to save development costs in the three-digit billion range."

In the development of the Panamera coupe, the German automakers worked hand-in-hand. Porsche planned a fairly modest budget of $1.37 billion. "We envisage further co-operation with VW and Audi as long as they do not affect central elements such as design, motoring or carriages," Harter said, adding that in the short term it was not necessary to increase the stake in VW for this reason.

Harter and VW's chief executive, Wendelin Wiedeking are actively participating in the company's plans. The venture is not limited to upgrading or engines - it is far beyond that. "The group has significant potential to improve results," Harter said. He identified VW's loss-making business in North America and Spanish Seat, its struggling subsidiary, as issues that needed to be discussed.

Separately, Porsche is looking forward to producing hybrid products. This is an effort to clear its gas-guzzling reputation. First hybrid vehicle will be ready within three years, the head of Porsche's new hybrid program announced Thursday, saying it showed progress by a company derided by some environmental groups as a climate destroyer.

Porsche's Cayenne hybrid is being developed in part with VW and Audi AG, and when complete is expected to reduce the sport utility vehicle's fuel consumption by almost one-third, reported Associated Press. The four-door SUV is expected to be on the market by the end of the decade, the Stuttgart-based automaker said, and such is a major move for the company in an increasingly carbon-conscious world, it added.

Michael H. Leiters, the head of the hybrid program, said that the move toward a hybrid is part of a wider effort to help its customers shake off the image of being gas-guzzling planet haters. "If you drive a Porsche in the neighborhood and everyone is... saying you are environmentally unfriendly, that is not good for us," he said, adding that developing the hybrid is "for us, a good solution." The prototype hybrid Cayenne emits just 240 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

"We've learned a lot from this project and we can transfer it," said Manfred Schuermann, the manager of powertrain and alternative propulsion, as the maker of the iconic 911 roadster offered a rare public view at its plans for the hybrid Cayenne. "We think in the next five to ten years that hybrid technology will be a niche technology."