Porsche 718 four-cylinder models helped Boxster, Cayman survive, may become electric – Walliser

When Porsche launched the 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS 4.0 models earlier this year, many saw the return of the six-cylinder, naturally aspirated engine to the mainstream mid-engined model lines as a tacit admission that the decision to downsize capacity and reduce cylinder count was a mistake. Porsche 718 model line chief Frank-Steffen Walliser stands by that decision, however.

“I would fully defend it. It was one of the most important strategic moves we did in the whole model line,” Walliser said. Upon checking Porsche’s sales figures over the last 20 years, the sports car maker found that demand from the Chinese market had been opened up with the introduction of the 2.0 litre models, Walliser told whichcar.com.au.

“With (China’s) purchase tax exemption regulations and luxury tax, the 2.0 litre models brought a completely different story,” he said. This didn’t excite everyone, however. “With the four-cylinder we have to say we lost some volume in more traditional markets. And we all know the engine is really good and the car drives very nicely, but you know what I talked about emotions? This engine is different,” Walliser admitted.

The return of the naturally-aspirated, six-cylinder GTS 4.0 models renewed European interest in the range.

The return of the six-cylinder engine to the 718 model line with the GTS models and the Cayman GT4 has renewed interest in the model range from Porsche’s more traditional markets such as Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and United States.

That said, “volume-wise we are number one in China, and this compensated for everything in the (worldwide perspective), and the sales numbers in China are unbelievably good over many, many years. Therefore strategy-wise it really helped the car to survive; it’s good business,” he stressed.

By advancing into the Chinese market, Porsche have found themselves a new customer demographic as well, Walliser explained. The target group with the four-cylinder 718 models is is much more female in its composition, and the typical Boxster customers are now 30-year-old Chinese women, he said.

Might the 718 range turn electric next?

The 718 model range then is a valuable one to Porsche, as once new customers have bought into the brand, they will continue with it, said Walliser. “Don’t get me wrong, we are a little bit in the handbag business. So, if you love your daughter, wife or girlfriend, you can give her a handbag, or if you love her a little bit more, you buy her a Boxster,” the 718 model line chief joked.

With the role of right-sizing – as opposed to downsizing – somewhat assumed by the 911 which will retain its six-cylinder engines, Porsche has other plans for the 718 Boxster and Cayman range. ” I definitely think we can do a very, very good electric sports car, but I do not intend to do an electric 911,” Walliser said.

With an EV Neunelfer effectively ruled out, will that mean the 718 range is the more likely candidate to go electric? “We will wait a little bit to see which direction we are going in,” the model line chief said regarding the 718’s method of propulsion.

GALLERY: Porsche 718 Boxster T and Cayman T

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