Porsche Cars North America Inc. today hosted the grand opening of an unconventional headquarters near the Atlanta airport that has kicked off an initiative to rev up the area.
The sleek, $100 million “Experience Center” sits on 27 acres near the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and also serves to reinforce the sports car’s brand. It’s complete with a 1.6-mile test track, a classic car gallery, simulator lab and amenities for business conferences. About 30,000 people are expected to visit each year, with many trying out driving experiences that start at $300.
Running through the courtyard of the building, the test track isn’t built for those with only a need for speed; it’s centered on helping drivers understand their cars to enhance performance. Instructors lead drivers through six stations, including a handling circuit with hairpin turns, an off-road course for Porsche’s ever-popular SUVs, a low-friction area and a kick plate that simulates slippage due to ice or wet leaves.
More than the flashy digs, Georgia’s leaders have been jubilant over Porsche’s economic impact and the very visible seal of approval it provides for other international companies. The headquarters is Porsche AG’s largest investment in a facility outside of Germany. Porsche, which already had its North American office based in Sandy Springs, elected to stay in Atlanta after scouting more than 70 other destinations around the U.S.
Porsche AG CEO Matthias Müller was on hand at a press conference along with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and North America President and CEO Detlev von Platen to sing the praises of both the company and its home.
“Porsche’s investment in its new headquarters represents the confidence it has in the future success of our state, our economy and our workforce,” Mr. Deal said in a release. “The facility at One Porsche Drive is as innovative, forward-thinking and performance-driven as the company itself. From their windows on I-75, travelers have borne witness to the progress being made here, and now, the day has come when these same visitors can truly experience all that Porsche and Georgia, have to offer.”
The opening comes on the heels of a blockbuster month for Porsche, which eclipsed sales of 5,000 vehicles for the first time ever. That growth was mostly driven by the new Macan small SUV. All other models sold in the U.S., including the Boxster/Cayman, 911/918, Cayenne and Panamera, saw declines in April compared to the same month last year. Year to date, though, sales are up 17 percent.
The opening comes on the same day Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Stephen Cannon is slated to speak to the Atlanta Press Club about the relocation of that German auto maker’s headquarters here.