Let's do a bit of math and let's try to really appreciate the challenge facing the Cayenne.

The 2001 US SUV market reached 3,787,250 units (+12.6%). Of this market, 291,806 were "premium" SUVs representing 7.7% of the SUV market.

Automotive News magazine is splitting the premium segment into 2 sub-categories: Premium (87,153 units) and Premium Sport Wagon (204,653)

The Premium segment being made of the following models: Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Lexus RX 470, Toyota Land Cruiser, Range Rover, Hummer, MB G-Class.

Clearly the Cayenne isn't competing with these models except may be the Range Rover?

On the other hand, the Premium Sport Wagon segment is made of the Lexus RX 300 (77,426 units), MB M-Class (45,655 units), Acura MDX (40,950 units) and the BMW X5 (40,622 units).

Obviously the Cayenne will be classified in this category.

In order to get a clearer view, we have now to analyse how big is the market for SUVs with a tag price over US$ 50,000. It was approximately 3.3% of the total SUV market or 125,000 units.

Porsche is planning on selling roughly 15,000 Cayenne (60% of 25,000) per year in the US. This would translate into a 0.4% market share of the TOTAL SUV market or 5% of the Premium segment or 12% of the segment over US$ 50k.

This last number (12%) may seem ambitious BUT we have to bear in mind that Porsche with the Boxster and the 911 has roughly an 18% market share of the Premium and Exotic Sporty segment.

So, in the US, the Cayenne is facing a tough challenge but it shouldn't be overestimated too.

During the Touareg presentation, VW gave some interesting numbers:

- In 2001, the WORLD market for luxury SUVs was 707,000 units. With the addition of the Cayenne, the BMW X3, the Volvo XC 90 and the VW Touareg, they think it can reach 807,000 units by 2004.

Bottom line Porsche (with 25,000 units) is going for a 3.1% market share which is not overly agressive.

- When it comes to the ultra high performance SUV segment, the market is super narrow.
In 2002, BMW is expecting to sell (worldwide) 4,500 X5-4.6is and MB should sell only 3,800 of its ML55 AMG.... I couldn't think of any other serious competitor to the Cayenne .... May be, the NEW Range Rover because of its off-road capabilities?

So clearly the Cayenne will modify enormously the equilibrium of that minuscule (so far) segment.

To conclude, depending on how you look at it, the challenge is ambitious (X5-4.6is+ML55AMG only 8,300 units in 2002) or not demanding 3.1% market share of the world luxury SUV market.

In any case time will tell.....

PS: I would love to offer my apologies to our European friends but I don't have enough data on the European market to do the same type of analysis