‘Birthplace’ of Caen: why Porsche chose Leipzig

Twenty years ago, on August 20, 2002, the new plant in Leipzig was officially opened. On the same day, the first Cayenne car rolled off the production line. It was the start of a great success story in two respects, yet other plans were originally considered. In 1998, when Porsche laid the foundation for the construction of the Cayenne, the future production site of the sports car manufacturer’s first SUV model seemed clear. Volkswagen, the partner in the collaboration, which was moving forward with the Touareg model on the platform of the codenamed Colorado project internally and was responsible for the production of the joint venture, decided to set up a new plant in Bratislava. Both SUVs were scheduled to roll off the production line together in Slovakia.

However, Wendelin Wiedeking, Porsche’s CEO at the time, was particularly keen on the “Made in Germany” quality stamp. The potential economic added value of production in Germany had to be weighed against the additional costs associated with it. Wiedeking commissioned corresponding studies, which eventually showed that, especially in North America (the main market at the time), the German-made Cayenne could achieve much greater success – even with higher production costs.

The opening of the factory and the official start of production of the Porsche Cayenne was celebrated in luxurious style on August 20, 2002.

Porsche went in search of a potential site for a second factory in addition to its headquarters in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. The company finally found what it was looking for just north of Leipzig. The project was initially treated with internal secrecy, recalls Frank Mildenberger, who is still the person in charge of organizing Porsche’s internal events. He remembers a particularly vague phone call: “My boss told me a little before the weekend: ‘We’ll go on Monday, but I won’t tell you where we’re going until then.’ Mildenberger found out what he was about only when they arrived ‘in a huge field near Leipzig.'” He reveals, “This was where the new factory was going to be built.” “And I had to organize the groundbreaking ceremony.”

Two and a half years between the groundbreaking ceremony and the start of production

The decision was officially announced in September 1999. The company, the city of Leipzig and the state of Saxony worked frantically together to meet the ambitious schedule of the large-scale project. Even organizing the official groundbreaking ceremony was a logistical challenge, according to Mildenberger. “The event was scheduled to host 100 guests, but over time word spread about the importance of Porsche’s participation in Leipzig. Suddenly, everyone wanted to be there.

In the end, he needed a marquee, restaurants, health facilities, and infrastructure for 350 guests. At the last minute, Mildenberger had to arrange certified yellow boots for the construction site. It was then worn by Wendelin Wiedeking, Kurt Biedenkopf, then Prime Minister of Saxony, and then Mayor of Leipzig, Wolfgang Tiefensee, at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Leipzig Factory, 2000, Porsche AG

Groundbreaking ceremony for the Leipzig plant in February 2000: Leipzig Mayor Wolfgang Tiefensee, Chairman of the Executive Board Wendelin Wiedeking and Prime Minister of Saxony Kurt Bedenkopf (from left to right).

Only two and a half years passed between that day in February 2000 and the official start of production on August 20, 2002. At that time, an assembly hall of 15,000 square meters was built, where painted Cayenne bodies were delivered from Bratislava. The engines came from Zuffenhausen. The “marriage” – the joining of the chassis, transmission, engine and body – happened in Leipzig, as did the final production, which means that the Cayenne is considered “Made in Germany” from a legal point of view as well.

Leipzig factory, 2002, Porsche AG

The factory floor at the Porsche site in Leipzig in the inaugural 2002.

Soon, Porsche’s big investment was paying off. It wasn’t long before the original 259 employees and assembly facilities weren’t enough to meet the growing demand for Porsche’s first SUV. The plant was first expanded in 2004. “Leipzig has become our second home at Porsche together with Zuffenhausen,” said Wendelin Wiedeking. Another strong sign of Saxon commitment was the decision to build the limited-running Carrera GT super sports car from 2003 to 2006.

Five factory expansions in 20 years

Over the past two decades, the Leipzig site has developed in many ways – from an initial assembly plant to a full-fledged production facility and a meeting place for car enthusiasts. At the Porsche Experience Center Leipzig, customers can collect their car, visit an exhibition of historic cars and place different Porsche models through its unique track and off-road area of ​​132 hectares. The main distinguishing feature of the site is the 32 meter high “diamond” – the customer center, which is designed as a jewel standing at its end.

Cayenne, Leipzig Factory, 2004, Porsche AG

The Cayenne was assembled in 2004. Today, the Panamera and the Macan are built in Leipzig.

Porsche Leipzig began to grow with the Cayenne. In 2009, assembly of the Panamera sports sedan was added, and from 2011 to 2013, the plant evolved into what is known as the Complete Factory. Porsche’s second SUV, the Macan, has been manufactured in Leipzig since 2013. A body shop and a paint shop have been added for this purpose. Since the launch of its second generation in 2016, the Panamera has been entirely manufactured at the factory.

Cayenne, Leipzig Factory, 2017, Porsche AG

738,503 Cayenne models were assembled in Leipzig. Since 2017, the luxury Porsche SUV has been entirely manufactured in Bratislava.

In 20 years, more than 1.7 million Porsche cars rolled off the production line in Saxony. Currently, the model mix is ​​about 550 Macan and Panamera models per day. Since 2019, the Leipzig plant has been undergoing a fifth expansion to become a center of expertise in the field of electric mobility. A new body shop has been built for the next generation Macan, which will be launched as an all-electric model.

Goodbye to Cayenne after 738,503 examples

The Porsche Cayenne left its home in Saxony with the switch from the second generation to the third generation in 2017. After 738,503 cars were manufactured in Leipzig, the current model is now entirely produced in Bratislava. The move did nothing to slow its success: With 19,029 cars delivered, the Cayenne was Porsche’s largest model in the first quarter of 2022, just ahead of the McCann.

20 years Cayenne

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