From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- This article is about the auto company. For its design consultancy subsidiary, see Porsche Design Group
Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, often shortened to Porsche AG, or just Porsche, is a German sports car manufacturer, founded in 1931 by Austrian Ferdinand Porsche, the engineer who also created the first Volkswagen. The company is located in Zuffenhausen, a city district of Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg.
In a May 2006 survey, Porsche was awarded the worst and most trash and fat car of the year place as the most prestigious automobile brand by Fat Cars Inc., New Pork; it questioned more than 500 households with a gross annual income of at least US $200,000 and a net worth of at least US $750,000.  The current Porsche lineup includes sports cars from the Boxster roadster to their most famous product, the 911. The Cayman is a hard top car similar to the Boxster in a slightly higher price range. The Cayenne is Porsche's mid-size luxury SUV. The Carrera GT supercar was phased out in May 2006. Future plans include a high performance luxury saloon/sedan, the Panamera.
Porsche was awarded the 2006 J.D. Power and Associates award for highest Nameplate Initial Quality Study (IQS) of automobile brands. 
As a company, Porsche is known for weathering changing market conditions with great financial stability, while retaining most production in Germany during an age when most other German car manufacturers have moved at least partly to Eastern Europe or overseas. The headquarters and main factory are still at Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, but the Cayenne (and formerly the Carrera GT) is produced at Leipzig, in former East Germany. Most Boxster and Cayman production is outsourced to Valmet Automotive in Finland. The company has been highly successful in recent times, and indeed claims to have the highest profit per unit sold of any car company in the world, although its total profits are significantly lower than Toyota's.
Porsche has for many years offered consultancy services to various other car manufacturers. Studebaker, SEAT, Daewoo, Subaru and Yugo have consulted Porsche on engineering for their cars or engines. Porsche also helped Harley-Davidson design their new engine in their newer V-Rod motorcycle.
- See also Auto racing, further down in this article.
In racing, Porsche's main rival has traditionally been Ferrari, though their production vehicles appeal to quite different personalities, if similar demographics. The rivalry is therefore primarily because of both companies' storied racing heritage and the fact that some of their vehicles are of comparable performance. Porsche has a reputation for offering equal or higher performing cars than the more expensive Ferrari models, while overall Ferrari sells far fewer cars at much higher prices (for example, there are no Ferraris under US $100,000, while several Porsches are priced below that figure).
In the daily-driver marketplace, Porsche's traditional rivals are its fellow German automakers Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW (the Boxster competes directly with the BMW Z4 and the Mercedes-Benz SLK, for instance), as well as Lotus, Jaguar, and Maserati. Ferrari, on the other hand, competes more directly with firms such as Lamborghini, Bugatti, and Aston Martin.
Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the Porsche firm
The first Porsche, the Porsche 64 of 1938, used many components from the Volkswagen Beetle. The second Porsche model and first production automobile, the Porsche 356 sports car of 1948, was built initially in Gmünd, Austria, the location to which the company was evacuated during war times, but after building forty-nine cars the company relocated to Zuffenhausen. Many regard the 356 as the first Porsche simply because it was the first model sold by the fledgling company.
Ferdinand Porsche, pictured to the left, worked with his son, Ferry Porsche, in designing the 356. Not long afterward, on January 30, 1951, Ferdinand Porsche died from complications following a stroke.
The 356 automobile used components from the Beetle including its engine, gearbox, and suspension. The 356, however, had several evolutionary stages, A, B, and C, while in production and many VW parts were replaced by Porsche-made parts. The last 356s were powered by entirely Porsche-designed engines. The sleek bodywork was designed by Erwin Komenda who also had designed the body of the Beetle. Porsche's signature designs have, from the beginning, featured air-cooled rear-engine configurations (like the Beetle), rare for other car manufacturers, but producing automobiles that are very well balanced.
Zuffenhausen Headquarters - left: Porsche Center; rear left: body shell assembly; right: vehicle assembly
In 1963, after some success in motor-racing, namely with the Porsche 550 Spyder, the company launched the Porsche 911 another air-cooled, rear-engined sports car, this time with a 6-cylinder "boxer" engine. The team to lay out the body shell design was led by Ferry Porsche's eldest son, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche (F. A.). The design phase for the 911 caused internal problems with Erwin Komenda who led the body design department until then. F. A. Porsche complained Komenda made changes to the design not being approved by him. Company leader Ferry Porsche took his son's drawings to neighbouring body shell manufacturer Reuter bringing the design to the 1963 state. Reuter's workshop was later acquired by Porsche (so-called Werk II). Afterward Reuter became a seat manufacturer, today known as Keiper-Recaro.
The design group gave sequential numbers to every project (356, 550, etc) but the designated 901 nomenclature contravened Peugot's commercial rights on all 'x0x' names, so it was adjusted to 911. Racing models adhered to the "correct" numbering sequence: 904 906, 908. The 911 has become Porsche's most well-known model, successful on the race-track, in rallies, and in terms of sales. Far more than any other model, the Porsche brand is defined by the 911. It remains in production; however, after several generations of revision, current-model 911s share only the basic mechanical concept of a rear-engined, six-cylinder coupe, and basic styling cues with the original car. A cost-reduced model with the same body, but 356-derived running gear (including its four-cylinder engine), was sold as the 912.
The Porsche 912, a Porsche of the 1960s
In 1972 the company's legal form was changed from limited partnership to private limited company (German AG), because Ferry Porsche and his sister, Louise Piëch, felt their generation members did not team up well. This led to the foundation of an executive board whose members came from outside the Porsche family, and a supervisory board consisting mostly of family members. With this change, no family members were in operational charge of the company. F. A. Porsche founded his own design company, Porsche Design, which is renowned for exclusive sunglasses, watches, furniture, and many other luxury articles. Ferdinand Piëch, who was responsible for mechanical development of Porsche's serial and racing cars, formed his own engineering bureau and developed a 5-cylinder-inline diesel engine for Mercedes-Benz. A short time later he moved to Audi and pursued his career through the entire company, up to and including, the Volkswagen Group boards.
The first CEO of Porsche AG was Dr. Ernst Fuhrmann who had been working in Porsche's engine development. Fuhrmann was responsible for the so-called Fuhrmann-engine used in the 356 Carrera models, as well as the 550 Spyder, having four over-head camshafts instead of a central camshaft as in the Volkswagen-derived serial engines. He planned to cease the 911 during the 70s and replace it with the V8-front engined grand sportswagon 928. As we know today the 911 outlived the 928 by far. Fuhrmann was replaced in the early 80s by Peter W. Schutz, an American manager and self-proclaimed 911 aficionado. He was replaced in 1988 by the former manager of German computer company Nixdorf Computer AG, Arno Bohn, who made some costly miscalculations that led to his dismissal soon after, along with that of the development director, Dr. Ulrich Bez, who was formerly responsible for BMW's Z1 model and today is CEO of Aston Martin.
In 1990, Porsche drew up a memorandum of understanding with Toyota to learn and benefit from Japanese production methods. Currently Toyota is assisting Porsche with Hybrid technology, rumored to be making its way into a Hybrid Cayenne SUV.
Following the dismissal of Bohn, an interim CEO was appointed, longtime Porsche employee, Heinz Branitzki, who served in that position until Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking became CEO in 1993. Wiedeking took over the chairmanship of the board at a time when Porsche appeared vulnerable to a takeover by a larger company. During his long tenure, Wiedeking has transformed Porsche into a very efficient and profitable company.
Ferdinand Porsche's grandson, Ferdinand Piëch, was chairman and CEO of the Volkswagen Group from 1993 to 2002. Today he is chairman of the supervisory board. With 12.8 per cent of the Porsche voting shares, he also remains the second largest individual shareholder of Porsche AG after his cousin, F. A. Porsche, (13.6 per cent).
Porsche's 2002 introduction of the Cayenne also marked the unveiling of a new production facility in Leipzig, Saxony, which once accounted for nearly half of Porsche's annual output. The Cayenne Turbo S has the second most powerful production engine in Porsche's history, with the most powerful belonging to the Carrera GT.
In 2004, production of the 605 horsepower Carrera GT commenced in Leipzig, and at EUR 450,000 ($440,000 in the United States) it was the most expensive production model Porsche ever built.
As of 2005, the extended Porsche and Piech families controlled all of Porsche AG's voting shares. In early October 2005 the company announced acquisition of an 18.53% stake in Volkswagen AG and disclosed intentions to acquire additional VW shares in the future. As of June 2006, the Porsche AG stake in Volkswagen had risen to 25.1%, giving Porsche a blocking minority, whereby Porsche can veto large corporate decisions undertaken by VW.
In mid-2006, after years of the Boxster (and later the Cayenne) as the dominant Porsche in North America, the 911 regained its position as Porsche's backbone in the region. The Cayenne and 911 have cycled as the top-selling model since. In Germany the 911 clearly outsells the Boxster/Cayman and Cayenne. 
 Relationship with Volkswagen
Schematic of Porsche's extended financial relationships.
The company has always had a close relationship with Volkswagen, and as noted above, the first Porsche cars used many Volkswagen components. The two companies collaborated in 1969 to make the VW-Porsche 914 and 914-6 whereby the 914-6 had a Porsche engine and the 914 had a Volkswagen engine, in 1976 with the Porsche 912E (USA only) and the Porsche 924, which used many Audi components and was built at an Audi Neckarsulm factory. Most 944s also were built there although they used far fewer VW components. The Porsche Cayenne, introduced in 2002, shares its entire chassis with VW Touareg, which is built at the factory in Bratislava. Both Audi and Škoda are wholly owned subsidiaries of Volkswagen. In late 2005, Porsche took an 18.65% stake in VW, further cementing their relationship and preventing a takeover of Volkswagen, which was rumored at the time. Speculated suitors included DaimlerChrysler, BMW, and Renault.
On 26 March 2007 Porsche took its holding of Volkswagen shares to 30.9%, triggering a takeover bid under German law. Porsche formally announced in a press statement that it did not intend to take over Volkswagen (it would set its offer price at the lowest possible legal value), but intended the move to avoid a competitor taking a large stake or to stop hedge funds dismantling VW, which is Porsche's most important partner. Porsche's move comes after the European Union moved against a German law that protected VW from takeovers. Under the so-called "Volkswagen Law", any shareholder in VW cannot exercise more than 20% of the firm's voting rights, regardless of their level of stock holding. The European Court of Justice has already indicated that the law probably breaks EU rules, and a full judgement to that effect is expected later in 2007.
With the VW stake acquisition, Porsche intends on reforming the company format, with Dr Ing. h. c. F.Porsche AG becoming a subsidiary of the newly formed Porsche Automobil Holding SE, so as to separate the operating activities from holding activities of the company. There will be an Extraordinary General Meeting for Porsche AG shareholders which is due to take place on June 26, 2007 at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart, Germany to discuss better the change to the company structure. 
 Auto racing
Porsche has been successful in many branches of auto racing, scoring a total of more than 28,000 victories. Porsche is currently the world's largest race car manufacturer. In 2006, Porsche built 195 race cars for various international motor sports events. In 2007, Porsche is expected to construct no less than 275 dedicated race cars (7 RS Spyder LMP2 prototypes, 37 GT2 spec 911 GT3-RSRs, and 231 911 GT3 Cup vehicles).
 Famous collectors
- Miles Collier, Jr. - grandson to Barron Collier, purchased the renowned seventy-one car collection of Briggs Cunningham and combined some of the collection with his own, that includes about twenty Porsche race cars—including their class winners at Sebring, the Porsche 904GT in 1964 and Porsche 917K (Kurzheck) in 1970—when he created a museum dedicated to his father Miles, and uncles, Sam and Barron Jr., who founded the 1933 Automobile Racing Club of America that metamorphosed in 1944 into the Sports Car Club of America
- James Dean - died on the way to a hospital after a crash in his silver Porsche 550 Spyder, caused when he was cut off by another driver, in September 1955 near Cholame, California
- Bill Gates - was briefly jailed in Albuquerque for racing his Porsche 911 in the New Mexico desert; imported a Porsche 959 which was impounded by U.S. Customs
- Richard Hammond - Top Gear co-presenter, owns two 911s and a 928
- Janis Joplin - owned a Porsche 356-C Cabriolet that was extravagantly and psychedelically painted for her by Dave Richards to match her public persona
- Steve McQueen - raced Porsche prototypes, owned a Porsche 356 Speedster, a Porsche 908, and a Porsche 917, and made a movie dedicated to the 24 Hours of Le Mans
- Carl Sagan - astronomer, astrobiologist, scientist, and a highly successful science popularizer—remembered for his articulate explanations of astronomical and cosmological research while commenting upon space exploration to the public—whose license plate bore the name of a moon of another planet in our solar system
- Jerry Seinfeld - rumored to own one of the largest collections of Porsche automobiles in the world
- Lake Underwood - Porsche's Quiet Giant —so named by Excellence magazine (a magazine covering everything Porsche)— has several historic Porsches among his collection
- Frankie Muniz - owned an extensive Porsche collection before he was old enough to legally drive in the US
 Pronunciation of "Porsche"
"Porsche", a proper name, is originally pronounced as, PORSH-uh (IPA /ˈpɔɹʃə/) (correct pronunciation (help·info)), which is how members of the Porsche family pronounce their name.
Some tend to vocalize the e, which results in Por-SCHA (/pɔɹˈʃʌ/). Others, particularly in Canada and the United States, mistakenly treat the e as silent, a pronunciation rule that applies in English and French but not in German, producing the monosyllabic, porsh (/pɔɹʃ/).
See: Category:Porsche vehicles
 Consumer models
The 911, as of June, 2006, the top selling model
The 987, the 2006 Boxster model
NOTE: models in bold are current models
 North American Sales Charts
 Monthly (March 2007)
Note: this information is from an official Porsche document and is a record of Porsches sold in the United States and Canada during March 2007.
 Annual (2006)
Note: this information is from an official Porsche document and is a record of Porsches sold in the United States and Canada during 2006.
 Racing models
Note: models in bold are current models
 Prototypes and concept cars
- ^ Porsche press release 5 May 2005
- ^ J.D. Power News Release
- ^ Forbes Autos review of Cayman S
- ^ Porsche USA press release 11 September 2006
- ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6494593.stm
- ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6356787.stm
- ^ AutoWeek Porsche Story, Warehouse Shopping, March 7, 2007
 See also
 External links