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Porsche to open first factory outside Europe next year

Porsche AG updates

Germany’s Porsche will open its first factory outside of Europe next year, in a marked departure from the 90-year-old luxury brand’s practice of building its cars close to its storied Stuttgart home.

A small assembly line in Malaysia will be set up to serve the Asian country’s growing number of Porsche enthusiasts, who are currently forced to pay almost double for imported sports vehicles, due to high tariffs and taxes.

The move by the VW-owned marque comes five years after the brand started to produce its Cayenne SUV in Slovakia, weakening its “Made in Germany” marketing slogan.

Since then, Porsche has continued to manufacture the vast majority of its cars in its home country, and proudly boasts that its new electric Taycan, for example, is “engineered and made in Germany”.

Chief executive Oliver Blume earlier this year told the Financial Times that the brand would not build a factory in China, its largest and most profitable market.

“It is a quality and a premium argument still to produce from Europe for China,” he said in February, adding that it was worth absorbing higher production costs to maintain Porsche’s cachet.

Albrecht Reimold, Porsche’s board member in charge of production, said on Monday the company was “fortunate that, due to careful planning, our existing factories are more than up to the task of meeting current and future global demand for our cars”.

But he added that the new assembly site in Malaysia “meets specific market needs and, although a standalone project and modest in size and capacity, it signals our willingness to learn and adapt to specific local market conditions”.

Several other carmakers, including Germany’s Mercedes-Benz, have long operated Malaysian plants, to make inroads into a rapidly growing market.

The World Bank has predicted that Malaysia is likely to become a high-income economy some time between 2024 and 2028.

Porsche, which has been selling cars in Malaysia via distributor Sime Darby Berhad for the past 10 years, delivered a little more than 400 vehicles in the country in 2020. That figure represented a 9 per cent increase on 2019.

The company also announced on Monday that it would build a research and development site in Shanghai, to understand and meet Chinese customers’ “highly specific” demands.


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