German automaker Porsche broke ground Tuesday
in Atlanta on a 70-million-dollar North American headquarters
complete with a test track for customers.
Porsche chief executive Matthias Mueller and other members of the Stuttgart-based maker of luxury and sports cars joined Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in the ceremony at the site of a shuttered Ford plant near Atlanta's international airport.
The investment is proof that Porsche believes in the "very important" US market, Mueller said.
In the first 10 months of 2012, Porsche sold more than 18,200 cars in the US, an increase of 13 per cent over the same period last year. The growth has helped provide stability in a difficult period for European carmakers in the home market.
Porsche has run its North American business out of Atlanta for 14 years, but when the new headquarters opens all of its operations, including affiliates, customer service and the finance department, will be under one roof. The 2.7-kilometre test track will run through the building's lower level and will be used by customers.
The location of the new headquarters is strategic because it will be in the centre of the south-eastern US, placing it within a two-hour flight of a large portion of the US population.
The facility is scheduled to open in the second half of 2014. About 400 workers will be employed at the headquarters, about 100 more than the number currently employed by Porsche's North American operations.
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