Porsche became more than a sports car company with launch of its first-generation Cayenne in 2002.
This week, the automaker celebrated the production of its one millionth Cayenne SUV.
The milestone vehicle is shown here on the production line at a Volkswagen Group plant in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Cayenne GTS is finished in Carmine Red. It’s destined for a customer in Germany.
It took the Cayenne just 18 years to reach the milestone. In comparison, Porsche’s iconic sports car, the 911, took more than half a century to do the same.
The Cayenne is currently in its third generation. The original one made its debut at the 2002 Paris International Motor Show. Understandably, it proved quite controversial back then. This was as Porsche’s lineup had only ever consisted of sports cars. That is, if you exclude the tractors it also made in its early days.
However, the Cayenne soon proved to be the sportiest of SUVs and in quick time became Porsche’s most popular model. In fact, the Cayenne helped save Porsche from serious financial hardship and also helped fund the development of further models, such as the Carrera GT and 918 Spyder.
After Porsche found success with the launch of the Boxster in the early 1990s, the automaker decided it was time for a third line, to create a firm footing for the company. The Cayenne was first announced in 1998, though at the time it was known only as Project Colorado. The goal for engineers was a vehicle that was powerful and dynamic and suitable for all types of terrain.
Rather than go it alone however, Porsche teamed up with Volkswagen which developed the first Touareg alongside the first Cayenne. Launching an SUV was already quite the risk, but there was even more pressure as Porsche would need a new production site, too.
The decision was made to build the new plant in the German city of Leipzig, and in August 2002, two years after construction started, the plant was ready to go. A month later the Cayenne was revealed to the world in Paris.
Today, the Cayenne vies with its smaller brother, the Macan, in the sales race. Porsche has just expanded the line to include a coupe-like body style, and in the future we’re likely to see a battery-electric powertrain added.