| LEIPZIG, Germany
LEIPZIG, Germany Porsche (VOWG_p.DE) expects to hit a target of selling more than 200,000 sports cars next year, three years earlier than originally scheduled, as the brand keeps pushing into sport-utility vehicles, Chief Executive Matthias Mueller said.
"The target is achievable in 2015 provided there are no disruptions and that markets continue to develop positively," Mueller said on Tuesday after a ceremony to open the brand's enlarged factory near the eastern German city of Leipzig.
Volkswagen-owned Porsche is entering the lucrative segment of compact SUVs with its new Macan model, which has already sold out about eight months of production ahead of its arrival at German dealerships on April 4, sales chief Bernhard Maier said.
The Macan, which competes with BMW's (BMWG.DE) X3 model and the Mercedes-Benz (DAIGn.DE) GLK, will replace the more roomy Cayenne SUV as Porsche's top-selling model next year, research firm IHS Automotive said, pegging 2015 Macan sales at 81,025 units compared with 70,055 for the Cayenne.
Porsche originally set the 200,000 sales goal for 2018 when parent VW is aiming to overtake Toyota (7203.T) and General Motors (GM.N) as the world's biggest carmaker. CEO Mueller has been saying for months that the goal could be met earlier.
Porsche works council chief Uwe Hueck hailed the Macan as worthy addition, though warned that the iconic brand, which advertises as "manufacturer of exclusive premium cars," does not over expand in the push for volume.
"We must take those warnings (of over stretching the brand's identity) serious, one can't ignore them," Hueck told Reuters on Tuesday.
"We must ensure that the Porsche myth is preserved. Whether this is the case with 200,000 or 250,000 units is something we will have to look at," said Hueck, who also sits on the sports-car maker's supervisory board.
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(Editing by William Hardy)