I think Audi originally underestimated the SUV market, and maybe felt it might go away. That's speculation and not based on anything I've been told, but perhaps they hoped the allroad would be their answer. I don't believe they were originally penned for a Touareg/Cayenne offering, though I believe Audi's ability to build an SUV on there was in the contract between VW and Porsche.
At the end of the day, I think they and VWAG get it now. A second SUV is planned (Q5) supposedly using the A4 component set.... probably B8 based on expected arrival of the Q5. A 7-passenger SUV on the Touareg platform should also be a winner.
It's funny. Neither Volvo or Audi dove into this (or even VW), but Volvo has shown that you can come to the party late and still be successful. They're already the best-selling European SUV (beating out Land Rover as well) and their biggest limitation right now is that their production is maxed out, so they are sellling them as fast as they can build. The Q7 should be a nice boost for Audi in a similar fashion.
Regardless of how late a carmaker enters into the SUV party. If its an excellent vehicle, it would definitely sold well. Touareg, Cayenne and XC90 were late to the party. All of them sold relatively well.
You know, I've heard some hardcore porschephiles talk the car down, but I know when it was first announced, Fred Schwab told us at the Detroit Auto Show that Porsche owners have some silly high retention rate... meaning if you buy a porsche, you're VERY likely to buy another.
Considering that and the growth of the SUV market, it made sense on paper (I know that doesn't always translate off paper). That said, I thought I heard Porsche doubled their sales numbers overall, meaning their Cayenne sales doubbled overall sales. AND, there seems to be a market for it. I wasn't big on the truck at first, but the more I see it the more it seems to make some sense.... and with an updated interior in the style of the new 911 and Boxster, it'd be even more attractive.
So no, I'd say it's been a runaway success for Porsche, though the purists may argue its merits, from a profit and sales perspective - it's been huge.
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