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Porsche sales buck the lockdown trend

Porsche sales buck the lockdown trend

I recently wrote my monthly column for BMW Car magazine. The piece followed up on a column from earlier in the year, pondering whether societal attitude shifts caused by the COVID pandemic would be reflected in consumer activity after the first lockdown. Would the virtue signalling being displayed in attitudes to clean air, pollution, globalisation and general quality of life be reflected in consumer behaviour through the remainder of 2020?

To look for signs of this change, I checked the latest new car registration data, which showed the state of play up to the end of September. Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that, despite a fall of less than 5% in year-on-year registrations during September 2020, year-to-date new car registrations are down some 33%. It was not hard to spot the biggest losers.

Diesel Sales down 56%

New diesel car registrations are down 56% over the year to date: 270,000 fewer diesel cars have been registered so far in 2020 vs 2019, with a total market share of 17%. This is partly explained by fewer diesel models post-dieselgate, much lower corporate sales (market majority players and traditional diesel buyers) and lower projected mileages of the remaining fleet buyers. Petrol car registrations are down 40%: some 485,000 units year-on-year, giving petrol a market share just shy of 60%. The big change is that ‘alternative’ – i.e. part- or full-electric – drivetrain vehicles are rising.

To the end of September 2020, 314,655 hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles had been registered. This means that alternative drivetrains now outsell diesel roughly 3 to 2 in the UK. The combined market share for part- and full-electric cars is now 25%.

Bentley, Porsche, Lexus and Toyota

Looking at new car registrations by brand shows the scale of the shift faced by some manufacturers. Of the forty vehicle manufacturers listed in the SMMT new car registration data, only four have seen a year-on-year fall in registrations of less than 20%. They are Bentley (down 17%), Lexus (down 12%), Porsche (down 13%) and Toyota (down 16%).

Volumes obviously differ between these brands. Bentley has registered just over 1,000 cars YTD, while Porsche is higher at 8,653. Lexus steps up a bit with 11,341 cars YTD, but Toyota has registered 73,067 units in the UK this year. To lose just 16% of sales this year versus last, while other manufacturers lose up to 50% year-on-year shows that Toyota has got something right.

Hybrids may hold the key

Cumulative sales data for the hybrid models in Toyota’s portfolio shows that sales of its hybrid models through 2020 are a touch up on last year: 50,608 units this year compared to 48,359 unit in 2019. Toyota’s global hybrid sales now top 15 million units, with the UK accounting for 356,000 Toyota hybrid sales in an EU total of 2.8 million cars (approx. 12.7%).

As the UK is a bigger market in European terms, with a usual share of the EU and EFTA market circa 15%, one might think that the lower penetration of hybrid technology into UK car sales may be linked to company car taxation policy favouring diesel models. However, taxable benefits made it a no-brainer for me to pick a Prius when I ordered my final company car some twelve years ago and that EV tax advantage has only increased since 2008. The UK’s obsession with premium brands and the slow adoption of hybrid alternatives offered by premium (mostly German) manufacturers encouraging a general mistrust of hybrid drivetrains may be a more likely explanation. As we see from the latest data, that perception is now changing rapidly.

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid full electric range

Porsche recently announced an increase in the electric range of the plug-in Cayenne hybrid models, as part of a number of updates for the 2021MY. Gross capacity of the high-voltage battery has increased from 14.1 kWh to 17.9 kWh, extending the electric range by up to 30 per cent. All will shake their heads when they hear that the full electric range for the Cayenne E-Hybrid is still less than 30 miles, but this is a big old bus we’re talking about and the technology is still fairly young. It is worth noting that the projected range may be best-case scenario.

The purely electric powertrain in the plug-in hybrid Cayenne & Coupe comprises a 100kW electric motor integrated into the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, generating a purely electric top speed of 83 mph. Any increased power demand from the driver or switching to the Sport or Sport Plus driving modes activates the internal combustion engine.

Cayenne E-Hybrid (RRP £69,980) has a three-litre V6 turbo with an output of 340 PS, while the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid (RRP £126,690) features a four-litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine with 550 PS, giving a total system power output of 680 PS. Combined WLTP fuel consumption for the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid models is 68 to 74 mpg – pretty good.

Porsche sales resilience this year will be due to many things: a highly aspirational brand, attractive new models such as the Cayman GTS 4.0, a bit more disposable income around for core buyers and perhaps also its usual lead times. Most cars are ordered well in advance and built to spec, so there is some protection from cars ordered ahead of the full effect of the pandemic, but the manufacturer must also get some credit for shifting its product mix as part of Strategy 2025: Porsche’s plan to have half of its sales as electrified vehicles by 2025.

Porsche Profits 2020

The recent financial results from Stuttgart show that, on revenue of €19.4 billion from January to September 2020, Porsche recorded a profit of €2 billion: a 10.4% return on sales.

While this was almost 30% down on last year, things could have been worse and they know it. “Our young, attractive product portfolio appeals to customers,” said Porsche Chairman, Oliver Blume. “I’m optimistic about the coming months. The new 911 and our electric sports car, the Taycan, impressively demonstrate our innovative strength, and their sales figures have exceeded our expectations.”

Some 11,000 Taycans were delivered during the first three quarters of 2020, but more impressively (if such things impress old-school Porsche fans), Porsche delivered more than 190,000 vehicles to the end of Q3. China remained the biggest market, taking 62,823 vehicles to the end of September: a full third of all global deliveries. We will see how things pan out across the remainder of the year.

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Ferdinand Magazine is the personal blog of John Glynn, a writer, classic car and motorcycle valuations expert and court expert witness. To explore and enjoy more of my work, and to support the Ferdinand Porsche blog, you can:

Sold my Porsche Cayenne with LPG conversion

Sold my Porsche Cayenne with LPG conversion

One thing I won’t be doing on my upcoming fiftieth birthday is driving a Porsche, as I recently sold the Cayenne. It was just at that point where the condition was still pretty good, mileage was highish but not unacceptable, there were few good examples available to buy and I was satisfied that my Cayenne itch had been scratched.

As the snow fell across England, I put it on eBay as a ten-day sale with a set of good pics and a decent description, including the long list of all the things I had done to it in my five years of ownership. The ad generated an excellent response and brought in good interest from genuine buyers, which reached a crescendo as the end of sale approached.

A local motorsport specialist came round to see it on the final morning, we had a good drive and he placed a strong bid in the final minutes of the sale. However, the auction ended with a buyer in Essex claiming the Cayenne for just over £6k. I had quite a lot of spares and accessories that I planned to offer the buyer first refusal on, but the final price was the most I have seen an ’04 with similar mileage sell for on eBay, so I just put everything in the boot and sent the new owner off delighted.

A few friends who I spoke with after the sale end seemed to have the impression that I regarded the Cayenne as some sort of burden, with parts being changed on a monthly basis and me basically rebuilding the truck while I had it. This is not the case. I did have to go through a long-winded gearbox rebuild, but that would have been sorted much quicker and less painfully had I just taken it to a decent gearbox specialist right from the start.

Elsewhere, there were new parts for the heating and fuel supply systems, a crank position sensor change, bits and pieces for various MOTs and so on but, other that that, it was relatively easy company over five years and 50k miles, with no particular appetite for oil, tyres or brakes. Would I recommend a Cayenne as a used purchase? For sure. I particularly like the later 957 GTS models, but they are still big money, so an upgrade was never on the cards for me. I wouldn’t go into debt for a car that was still depreciating and I have better things to spend money on than a luxury daily driver.

A fortnight after the Cayenne’s departure, I don’t miss it too much, but there is nothing that can really hope to replace it. I’ve been looking for another Subaru Legacy estate, but my ideal spec is a needle in a haystack that has not come on the market in the last twelve months. So I’ve bitten the bullet and switched back to my 2006 Honda CRV: a good example with all the toys and one previous owner that’s been more bulletproof than a riot van over the two years I’ve owned it. It’s comfortable to drive and easy on the back, so I’ve added a Stag Q-Next LPG conversion to bring the fuel costs down to acceptable levels, which essentially bolts me into the CRV for the next three years.

Gas will save at least £1000 a year in running costs on this car – it saved twice that per year on the Cayenne – so is a no brainer. The main downside of the (grey) CRV is the absolute blandness of the exterior: it won’t upset anyone and that is one thing I will really miss about the curvy Cayenne. There’s also an hint of “I’m borrowing my wife’s car” about using the CRV, but passing fifty allows one to be increasingly less concerned about this stuff.

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New Porsche Cayenne receives warm reception

New Porsche Cayenne receives warm reception

First drive reviews of the brand new Porsche Cayenne have been popping up across the credible motoring sites and the reception is generally excellent. Porsche flew lots of reviewers to Crete for the European launch, which won’t have done their feedback any harm, but what the journos are saying makes sense.

The new Cayenne shares its platform with the Bentley Bentayga, Audi Q7 and forthcoming Lamborghini Urus. The Cayenne S has abandoned the beautiful big Porsche-built V8 that my old bus uses and gone to a group-derived 434bhp, twin-turbo V6 with eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 2.9-litre engine has an exceptional torque curve, with 405lb ft on tap from 1800 to 5500 revs! That is really something else and a chunk more than a standard V8 S, which had 310lb ft from 2500-5500. Mine has been ECU flashed, so maybe makes a bit more, but would love to try this twin-turbo with a car trailer on the back.

Matt Bird at Autocar gave the new truck just shy of a five-star rating, calling it “fairly tremendous at a great many things. The Cayenne’s cabin is a triumph, comprised of sumptuous materials, seamlessly integrated technology and considerable style.” The Autocar review goes on to rate the chassis pretty highly:

Our test Cayenne S featured carbon ceramic brakes, adaptive air suspension, rear axle steering and 21in wheels. When you bear in mind that a standard car would use steel springs, half the amount of steered wheels, smaller rims and iron brakes, you can see how it is hard to make a definitive judgement on the standard Cayenne S. As you might expect, however, the test car delivered a stellar dynamic performance.


I can’t say that ceramic brakes or rear wheel steering would be essential additions on what I use my Cayenne for, but if you want to hoon it while the kids are in the back trying to Snapchat each other then good luck to you – don’t forget to tick the wipe clean upholstery box.

For the 500 miles a year that a family man might get to really thrash a Cayenne hard with no one else in it, and given how well mine goes on steel springs and steel brakes, not to mention the lack of complexity, I think I would just spec it as standard, but that is not the press fleet way. If you’re going to fly hundreds of road test heroes to Crete at great cost, you must give them air suspension and 21-inch wheels to caress.

Meanwhile, regular people with cash will buy the S with nice paint, simple leather, smaller wheels and reasonable spec. The huge central screen is a must. Pano roof also nice but big glass roofs have a name for playing up in the long term. I don’t miss a leaky, creaky sunroof on mine.

New Cayenne: I like it too. No surprise there.

Porsche Macan S Buying: notes from new owner

Porsche Macan S Buying: notes from new owner

Caught up with my mate (and Cult of Porsche book publisher) Andy for lunch yesterday and finally had a chance to see his new Porsche Macan S. The Macan is a lovely example. Andy had a little bit of a battle with Porsche Centre Leeds after purchase, but the official Porsche dealer eventually stepped up and dealt with his issues, so all is now rosy in the garden.

In fairness to Andy’s OPC, they looked after him on part ex, with a decent price for his Jaguar. The Jet Black Metallic Macan S with 22,500 miles had just scraped past the minimum tyre tread depth on rear tyres to meet the Approved Used Porsche spec, so he made a bit of noise and managed to get them changed: about £700 worth of Michelins on the 21″ Turbo wheels. Porsche Leeds/JCT600 also fitted a set of front brake pads before delivery.

Porsche Macan S: must-have options

Spec on the 2014 Porsche Macan S is quite nice. The panoramic glass sunroof roof is a good start, and the leather dash and 18-way sports seats would be a must-have for me. Andy’s car also has the PASM dampers, which I have previously thought to be too harsh in sports mode. Andy says the same on the stiffest setting.

Those big wheels set the Macan’s curves off a treat and date my antique Cayenne S on its 18″ off-road tyres. I worry that big wheels ruin the ride but Andy is happy with the quality on Comfort suspension setting and easy it is better than his Jaguar. He also says the Bose hi-fi beats the upgraded Bowers & Wilkins sounds in his previous car, but is missing the Jaguar’s ventilated seats and notes a serious road noise issue with the Macan, citing horrendous road noise on places like the southern M25, especially the infamous concrete sections.

I mentioned excessive noise to a Porsche press officer once, who replied that cabin noise came as standard with a Porsche. This makes one wonder about original Macan S reviews. Auto Express described the Macan S as “superbly refined…with just a whisper from under the bonnet and a faint wind rustle from around the wing mirrors”, which Andy’s experience calls into question. The Cayenne is also quite noisy at speed and 911s are honestly too loud for phone conversations on motorways. Anyone clocking up mega miles needs to road test potential Porsche purchases carefully.

Porsche Macan S petrol vs diesel

The biggest question for mega-mile users will be petrol versus diesel. The same Auto Express journos insisted that the Macan S diesel was the model to have, but this carried little weight with Andy, who insists that no one should buy a Porsche to drive a diesel. And post-VW diesel scandal, who trusts the assertion that a diesel will do 10mpg more than the petrol and deliver the same performance as the twin turbo V6 engine?

Even without the optional sports exhaust, the petrol engine sounds pretty good and goes very well. Andy has been caught out by the performance of his Porsche Macan S once already, when the turbos kicked in coming hard off a roundabout and he almost ended up in the central reservation. He is learning a bit of respect for the throttle. He’s also been considering spending £2600 on retrofitting the sports exhaust system, but I’ve advised him to look at the switchable Akrapovic exhaust setup instead: it is cheaper to buy and will hold a higher percentage at resale. Also easy to take it off and sell separately.

Macan S Ownership Verdict

After a few thousand miles, the Macan S ownership verdict is a big thumbs up and the couple are considering buying another one. It is quite a change from Andy’s original target, which was a 911 Carrera up to £45k. When we’d been out to see a few 911s and then started comparing what spec Macan could be bought for the same money, the 911 dream was over. I think he made the right decision.

Cayenne tows Airbus: How hard can it be?

Cayenne tows Airbus: How hard can it be?

A Porsche Cayenne S has just entered the Guinness Book of Records for completing the heaviest aircraft pull recorded by a production car. The Cayenne S crossed The English Channel to France and on to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, where it pulled an Airbus 380 weighing 285 metric tonnes (630,000 pounds).

I’m not sure what the significance of Air France is in this – maybe the idea came from Porsche Cars GB technician and slammed 964 owner, Rich Payne, who drove the Cayenne, and a French friend of his working on Air France Airbus 380s. Anyway, the Cayenne is said to have been completely standard for the pull, apparently eschewing the usual addition of a tonne of steel ballast as per previous Volkswagen Touareg/Boeing 747 pulls to ensure good traction.

How hard can it be to get 295 tonnes of Airbus moving? I am no physics expert (as may be proved by the following paragraph), but the important factor is probably the friction co-efficient of the A380’s tyres. A NASA study in 2003 calculated a friction co-efficient for modern aircraft tyres of 0.015. Pumping the tyres up to a very high pressure would minimise this figure – perhaps taking it down to 0.01. Times 285 tonnes by 0.01 and you get 2.58 tonnes of weight pull to get this thing moving.

This is a little more than my ageing 955 Cayenne S towing the Tuthill Porsche 997 R-GT rally car on a trailer, which it has managed quite happily done for thousands of miles, so should be pretty straightforward for a modern Cayenne. The towcar challenge comes in controlling and stopping the weight hanging on behind, which of course the Cayenne does not have to do, especially with an airport apron out front for the A380 to roll off into.

Even taking the higher NASA figure of 0.15 gives us a a pulling weight of 4.2 tonnes, which a Cayenne should be able to handle no problem. Some of the big American domestic pickups can get 7 tonnes of trailer weight moving – been there, done that – so the issue would be finding an aircraft weighing 460 tonnes to smash this new record out of the water. Towing the Space Shuttle would be pretty cool, but that was only 74 tonnes: you’d need to link a few together to challenge one of the bigger US pickups, and get NASA to agree to it.

Still it’s well done and the photos are cool. A day messing around in France towing aircraft behind a Cayenne is a nice day at work. I’d like to see what a Macan could pull, weight wise.

Porsche Cayenne Rear Spring Replacement

Porsche Cayenne Rear Spring Replacement

Shakespeare once wrote that “the course of true love never did run smooth”. The timeless wisdom of this observation was proven yet again today, when I tackled a Porsche Cayenne rear spring replacement on my 2004 V8 Cayenne S: a.k.a. The Big Pig.

I took the Cayenne for MOT (annual safety inspection) last week and it was en route to passing with flying colours, until we got to the back end, where one spring had a cracked coil. Instant fail. I priced up genuine Porsche springs at £200 each plus the VAT, or Kilen springs made in Sweden from an eBay seller (the worryingly named “Octane Motorstore”) at £65 delivered for a pair. I wanted to change the pair of rear springs, so £400 versus £65 was a no brainer.

Porsche Cayenne rear spring replacement 2

The Cayenne has now clocked up 159,000 miles, with 42k of those in my ownership. Despite all the grief that this high maintenance German car has caused compared to my six previous trouble-free Subaru Legacy station wagons, I’m still quite keen on it, so I do like to keep it working properly and do as much of the work as I can myself.

Rear spring repacement is a pretty easy job on these: the hardest part is finding the time and a dry day to do the work, and jacking the Cayenne up to get underneath it. Working on this thing on the ground is a pain in the arse as it is so heavy. I go with a belt and braces approach to supporting the car as I am always working on my own. You are not coming out in one normal-size piece if it slips off a jackstand while you’re underneath it, so I use substantial (heavy) underpinnings.

Porsche Cayenne rear spring replacement 3

Eventually I got it up in the air, well supported with the rear wheels off and sized up the job. The rear suspension looks complicated, but it’s pretty simple: Pelican Parts has a great how-to on removing the rear suspension. The spring and damper assembly is a complete strut just like the front, so, once the anti-roll bar droplink is out of the way and the bottom shock nut is off, you just undo the four bolts holding the top mount to the chassis and drop the whole thing out. Then it’s easy enough to get spring compressors on the strut and break it all down into component pieces.

Porsche Cayenne rear spring replacement 4

Everything went smoothly enough. Undoing the strut top bolts was a mother of a job but, with a mishmash of extensions and breaker bars, they all eventually came undone. Taking it apart was easy (another win for air tools), but of course my doubts about the eBay springs were well founded: completely the wrong size and shape. They’ve got to go back and the dubious seller is being pretty tight about paying for the return, even though they sent the wrong parts. I had a strong feeling that it was all too good to be true.

Porsche Cayenne rear spring replacement 5

There are very few affordable options for uprated damper & spring kits on Cayennes, so to give myself more time to research what is out there and get the car back on the road in the meantime, I ordered a low mileage used rear strut assembly from a breaker friend of mine and will put that on to get the Cayenne through the MOT.

While I have the thing up in the air, I pulled the rear bumper, relocated the LPG filling point on to the chassis, jet washed everything and sprayed it all with some rustproofing wax.