CAIRO: As the global auto industry faces some of the harshest conditions it has in decades, one question has surfaced again and again: Can developing markets fill the void left by the collapse of spending on cars in the United States and Western Europe?
In Egypt, many analysts are predicting an end to the car market’s recent boom years – it has grown by about 20 percent per year since customs were lowered in 2004. But even a market with no growth is more appealing than one in which sales are declining, and so many companies have stepped up their campaigns in countries such as India and China.
Porsche, for one, is betting that Egypt will help them pick up at least some of the slack. Last week, the German luxury brand introduced the 911 Carrera 4, a flashy new model with an even flashier price tag, in Cairo. The company presented the car at a press conference complete with instructional videos, dramatic musical buildups and a ceremonial unveiling.
The new Carrera has been applauded by many car critics recently, partially for better fuel efficiency, more power, and new features including a flat-six engine, direct fuel injection and its Doppelkupplunsgetriebe – “double-clutch gearbox.
According to Auto Arabia, a regional car reviewer, the new Carrera has up to 8.5 percent more power – now 345 bhp (254 kW) – and is 12.9 percent more fuel-efficient than the previous model. With the double-clutch gearbox, the new model uses 10.1 liters of gas per 100 kilometers (about 28 miles per gallon).
At LE 1.5 million, the Carrera’s price places it well out of reach for average, and even most above-average, Egyptians. But the Cayenne model has already seen some success here. Whether the financial crisis will affect the Carrera’s appeal will be seen over the next few months.
Despite the state’s lowering of some customs earlier this decade, taxes still necessarily affect Porsche’s business model here. The company pays as much as LE 1 million to the Egyptian government when importing some of their models here, company officials said at the press conference.
It is expected that the state will continue to lower tariffs, which should allow the introduction of more luxury models at a later time.
For now, though, most local media has greeted the new Porsche with enthusiasm – and a bit of humor. “What a name. I mean, 911 – no one will forget it, quipped one reporter at the conference.