One of Germany’s premier automakers, Porsche, officially celebrated the opening of their North American Headquarters Thursday evening near Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. Approximately 1,000 Porsche officials and members of Atlanta’s social elite gathered in the ultra-modern Porsche Experience Center to toast the commencement of the company’s $100-million dollar facility. “Atlanta is the perfect location to run our operations in North America,” said Mathias Mueller, Porsche’s president and CEO. The center sends a strong message to dealers, customers and enthusiasts about our commitment to the North American market.”
The location of the Porsche North American Headquarters seems tailor made. It is situated between a major interstate highway and one of the busiest runways in the world, providing maximum exposure. It also affords space for the 1.6-mile test track, where Porsche professional driving instructors give lessons and new Porsche owners may take delivery of their cars. There is also a mini-museum, a Porsche restoration center, a high-end Porsche themed restaurant, and a fitness center. The fitness center is staffed by the same expert firm that serves the National Football League (NFL). Be advised, there is already a months long waiting list for most of these services.
Even the lobby contains some very memorable Porsche treasures — old and new. In a shop for customizing your new Carrera there is a Gulf-liveried Porsche 917 (one of the automaker’s true legendary race cars). A new Porsche Boxster Spyder is displayed outside of a gift shop that sales everything from $120 Porsche wallets to $9,000 Porsche bicycles. The current centerpiece is a Porsche Panamera Executive Series (1 of 100 built). Opulent trappings abound, including a refrigerator in the rear seating area and a exclusive paint job featuring brown and black accents that seem to fade into one-another. The price is $298,000.
The North American Headquarters will employ about 450 sales, finance, and business professionals. It symbolizes the largest Porsche investment outside of Germany. Porsche sold 47,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2014 and expects to improve that number to a total of 50,000-units for 2015. In addition to providing business support to Porsche dealers in North America, the facility will also house the Porsche Experience Center. It will provide enthusiasts and potential consumers with a glimpse of Porsche history, as well as an introduction to cutting edge Porsche technology. The Porsche Experience Center is scheduled to be open to the public on a daily basis. Porsche estimates that the center will host 30,000 visitors, annually.
The site, upon which the Porsche North American Headquarters is located, was once a burgeoning Ford factory. By 2010, when Porsche initiated plans to move to the spot, the factory was already rubble but at one time the “Hapeville Plant” employed more than 4,000-people. The Ford plant was built in 1947 and produced several car-lines, including the Torino, the Ranchero, the Fairlane, and the Thunderbird, before producing the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable during the its final two-decades. Only a few short miles away, the final Ford Taurus ever produced is displayed at the original Chick-Fil-A restaurant. The car was purchased by S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-Fil-A, who credited the employees of Ford’s Hapeville Assembly Plant with the success of his initial restaurant. The restaurant brand has grown into one of the most lucrative franchises in the U.S.