Why Hasn’t Porsche Made a Pickup Truck?
Enthusiasts may consider the 911 the quintessential Porsche, but the iconic sports car isn’t the German automaker’s big earner. Both the Cayenne and Macan have proved immensely popular, as has the Panamera sedan. Even the recently-announced electric Taycan may outsell the 911. Porsche doesn’t just make sports cars anymore: it makes luxury vehicles, too. But these non-911 vehicles are more than just luxury toys.
The Cayenne, for instance, is an extremely capable off-roader. And it has to be—Porsche has a reputation for excellence to uphold. So, despite purists’ initial (and in some cases, continuing) sneering, the company hasn’t lost its way by offering SUVs and crossovers. If anything, Porsche has proven its approach to vehicle design and engineering can lead to exciting vehicles in any segment. But that begs the question: why hasn’t Porsche made a pickup truck?
Risking the Brand for Too Little Market?
On the face of it, the answer seems simple. As with the Cayenne, Porsche fans would riot; and, Porsche might not want to risk that response over a potentially small market. Mercedes-Benz is already canceling its X-Class pickup due to weak sales after only two years on the market.
The X-Class also serves as a potential warning in a different way. Porsche in the US—one of its biggest markets—is considered a luxury brand. At the time of the X-Class’ release, The Drive reported that Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche doubted the pickup would do well in the US. Positioned as a premium midsize pickup, it would have challenged American perceptions of what a luxury pickup is—and potentially, what a Mercedes is. M-B had similar misgivings about selling its Sprinter van in the US, according to Car and Driver.
However, the Sprinter has done remarkably well in the States. And, ironically, the X-Class could have, too. While Europeans view pickups as utilitarian, in the US the pickup is increasingly seen as a luxury vehicle. Americans might not have batted an eye at a Mercedes-brand pickup, even one that’s a Nissan underneath.
And actually, the Nissan platform is another Porsche pickup support.
Porsche Already Has Pickup Platform Access
Porsche isn’t an independent brand. It’s part of the Volkswagen Group, a wide umbrella of motoring brands that range from the hyper-luxury Bugatti to the Italian motorcycle firm Ducati. And Volkswagen already has a pickup.
The mid-size Amarok isn’t sold in the US, but it offers some impressive payload hauling capabilities. And unlike the X-Class, using the Amarok’s platform would mean keeping everything “in-house.” Lamborghini did much the same, using an Audi SUV platform to create the extremely popular Urus. VW and Ford are even allegedly working together to develop their respective next-gen mid-size pickups. So, development costs wouldn’t be as much of an issue.
But even if a Porsche pickup weren’t based on the Amarok, Porsche wouldn’t necessarily have to worry about diluting the brand. Because a truck-platform pickup isn’t the only kind of pickup.
Car-Based Pickup (Ute) Alternatives
Although car-based pickups—or as Australians call them, “utes”—aren’t often thought of as pickups, by definition, they are. The classic examples are vehicles like the Ford Ranchero, Chevrolet El Camino, and Subaru BRAT. Subaru also made a more recent car-based pickup, the Baja Turbo. True, these aren’t exactly sporty vehicles. But that doesn’t mean sports cars can’t be turned into sporty pickups.
Wisconsin-based Smyth Performance sells kits to turn several different passenger cars into pickups—among them, the Audi S4 and Subaru Impreza WRX. Smyth Performance doesn’t offer a Porsche-specific kit, but that hasn’t stopped several 928 owners from taking a page from the company’s book.
Even automakers themselves have turned their high-performance cars into trucks. A team of Honda UK engineers turned a Civic Type R into a pickup for hauling tools and tires around. BMW did the same to two different M3 convertibles: once with an E30 M3 in 1986, and again with an E90 M3 in 2011.
And as a matter of fact, BMW’s M3 convertible pickups could point the way to a Porsche pickup.
Porsche Pickup from the Panamera Convertible
At the moment, the only Porsche sedan is the Panamera. And it isn’t available as a convertible. Yet.
Earlier this year, Autocar reported rumors of possible new Panamera variants: a two-door coupe and a convertible. And interestingly enough, Porsche execs “have not denied” these rumors. A convertible Panamera would be a great base for Porsche to build a pickup on. The reason BMW chose convertible M3’s for pickup-conversion is because the company didn’t have to strengthen the chassis more. The cars, as convertibles, already had additional built-in bracing because of the lack of roof. Essentially, all Porsche would have to do to make a Panamera pickup is take the convertible’s rear seats out and put in a bed.
Porsche hasn’t made a pickup truck. But there’s no reason why they couldn’t.