Porsche, the iconic German luxury carmaker, officially arrived in Cambodia on Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony of the Porsche Center Phnom Penh, adding to the growing list of high-end automobile companies catering to the country’s wealthiest consumers.
The new showroom, opposite Phnom Penh International Airport, will cover almost 2,000 square meters when complete at a cost of $2 million.
While the showroom is not due for completion until October, Porsche still expects to make at least 30 sales of new cars this year, said Graeme Hunter, general director of Precision Cars (Cambodia), which will represent Porsche in the country.
“Porsche is not a big volume brand—we sell about 200,000 cars a year, compared to, say, Toyota, which sells 6 million,” Mr. Hunter said at Monday’s ceremony.
“This year in Cambodia, we don’t have the Porsche center and are operating out of a temporary facility so we expect to sell about 30 vehicles, but with the center open, we will increase volume to 85 by 2017,” he said.
Mr. Hunter said that Porsche in Cambodia will be focusing on its range of SUVs as a more luxurious way to navigate the country’s less-than-perfect roads.
“The 911 is the iconic sports car, but the Cayenne is in the SUV category and it is as capable of going off-road as it is on-road, with sophisticated adjustable suspension,” he said, adding that it may take a few years and an improvement in infrastructure before Porsche’s sports cars take off in Cambodia.
When Porsche announced in 2002 that it was developing an SUV, there were rumblings from Porsche purists that the move into Sports Utility Vehicles signaled the demise of the luxury brand—but the strategy worked and its Cayenne model proved a hit, with Porsche selling more SUVs than all its sports cars combined.
In Cambodia, Porsche hopes to muscle in on a market once heavily dominated by Toyota and Lexus, but now showing signs of diversifying: Land Rover, Mercedes and BMW have all recently opened dealerships here, and Audi is set to open later this year.
Mr. Hunter said that it would not be difficult for Porsche to differentiate itself even amid heightened competition.
“Drive one—that’s ultimately the sales pitch,” he said. “You first have to experience a Porsche, then you will know the difference.”