Porsche Panamera and Porsche Cayenne – best-selling Porsche in China

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Porsche ChinaWhat’s the best-selling Porsche model in China?

Hint: It has four doors, not two.

Like most luxury carmakers, Porsche has grown fast in China, though its most popular car in the country isn’t its speedy Porsche 911 sports car but its four-door Porsche Panamera sedan and Porsche  Cayenne SUV.

Jebsen Motors, the auto division of the Hong Kong-based conglomerate Jebsen Group, is Porsche’s largest distributor in China. It said this week that it will be expanding in the country, opening its second dealership in Shanghai to keep up with surging demand. In addition to Shanghai, Jebsen sells Porsches in Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as Hong Kong and Macau.

Mark Bishop, the group director for Jebsen Motors, recently talked with The Wall Street Journal about the luxury market in China and why the country prefers sedans over sports cars. The following interview has been edited.

The Wall Street Journal: How are luxury cars doing in China at the moment? Are sales as strong as they were last year?

Mr. Bishop: It’s still very buoyant. The luxury end of the business still enjoys significant volume growth. We’ve seen meteoric growth here at Porsche, from around 350 to 400 cars in 2004 for all of China, to around 15,000 in 2010. China has become the No. 2 market for Porsche world-wide.

At Jebsen last year, we sold approximately one-third of the total volume for Porsche in China. In 2010, our Porsche Centre in Shanghai became the first dealership in China to sell over 1,000 units in a single year. But with more dealers and competition, our opportunities for growth might not be as great.

Black Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and girlsWSJ: What sells well in China?

Mr. Bishop: China is the biggest single market for the Porsche Cayenne and the Porsche Panamera. Considering the Porsche Panamera has only been on the market for 18 months, it’s a significant achievement. But it’s also an indication of the kind of cars that are popular here. Those two models are 80% of the business.

We’re still seeing a significant increase in the sports car too. But I think China has always been a big-car market. There’s a love for SUVs. There’s always been a chauffeur culture too, and I think that still exists today. But we’re seeing more and more people driving themselves. Even those who use it with a driver, we’re now seeing them on the weekends with the family out and the father driving.

WSJ: Are you worried about a slowdown in China?

Mr. Bishop: There are two potential risks. No. 1, economic slowdown. No. 2, social issues, or in what the government does in regards to buying cars and what it does about regulating them in the cities. Decisions can be made fast, and we have to work within it.

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