VW buying Porsche
So Volkswagen now has 49.9percent of Porsche, and by 2011 will have a majority shareholding in the famous and hugely profitable (when it isn't attempting reverse take-overs of giant-size companies like VW) sports car maker.
There's irony in this, Porsche born out of modifying the rather unpromising VW Beetle into sports cars post-war, and there's security in it for Porsche too, the Stuttgart operation now having a safety net should it sail into hard times.
But it's hard to avoid the thought that this loss of independence slightly tarnishes the appeal of Porsche. This was the car company that bucked the business trend, making huge profits on relatively low sales volumes that industry sages said were impossible, and a company that has gone its own way with bold introductions like the Cayenne (which many sages also said would spell disaster, but did anything but) and the Panamera. It probably comes well down the list of reasons for buying a Porsche, but there must a few self-made types who are attracted to the brand because it has been independent and a little bit maverick. Now it will be part of huge corporate empire, VW reckoning that 'Porsche will have the potential for significant additional growth.'
Let's hope that this doesn't mean pumping out thousands more Porsches, and turning it into a brand more ordinary. True, VW has a better record than most when it comes to nurturing brands – look at its success with Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley and Skoda – but the temptation to milk Porsche must be there. Let's hope Wolfsburg can resist, and preserve its philosophical integrity.