By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Malaysian automotive website paultan.org is reporting that new Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales has told the Proton Cars board of directors that Lotus will have two new vehicles around which it will build its future: a D segment performance sedan and an SUV. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is what many believe to be the playbook that led Porsche to become fabulously profitable in the early part of this century. First the VW Touareg-based Cayenne SUV, then the (somewhat) Audi A8-based Panamera launched, breaking sales and profit records for the Stuttgart-based sports car maker. Since that time, the company has added a smaller SUV, the Cajun, and more models are planned. It is the non-sports cars, they say, that made Porsche a powerhouse
Toyota to the Rescue, Sort Of…
Unfortunately for those who subscribe to potted histories, this isn’t the case. Porsche was saved by the Boxster, which shared more than 40% of its pieces with the 911 that followed. More importantly, a group of ex-Toyota executives were allowed by the Japanese automaker to thoroughly study Porsche’s processes, and suggest changes that would make the company more profitable. These experts dramatically cut the amount of inventory carried in the plant, the hand crafting necessary to get panels to fit properly, the time and labor cost per vehicle, and more. They identified enough changes that, when fully implemented, would reduce Porsche’s costs by more than 30%; money that would drop straight to the bottom line.