Looking for a Porsche but not sure what you want? Maybe you’d like a 911 for the workweek, a Cayenne for getting away over the weekend.
Now, you won’t have to choose, at least not if you live near the German maker’s U.S. headquarters in Atlanta and sign up for the new Porsche Passport program. The pilot program will offer two subscription levels and, for a price tag of up to $3,000 a month, you’ll be able to slip behind the wheel of as many as 22 different Porsche models pretty much whenever you want.
The subscription program is one of a number of new retail programs automakers are launching in the U.S. – some running as pilots, others reaching out to all potential buyers. The same day the German maker announced the Porsche Passport, Hyundai introduced its own Shopper Assurance program which will include a three-day, money-back guarantee.
“Our Strategy 2025 vision is to be the most aspirational brand in a new era of mobility and consumer expectations,” said President and CEO Klaus Zellmer of Porsche Cars North America, or PCNA. “Catering to customers’ desire to experience our sports cars in new ways is a part of our core strategy. With Porsche Passport, we now offer our customers a simple and flexible driving solution at their fingertips.”
(Hyundai gives buyers assurance with new car sales process. For the story, Click Here.)
The $2,000 monthly “base” tier, dubbed “Launch,” will give customers access to four different Porsche models: the 718 Boxster, Macan S, Cayman S or Cayenne. There’s an additional $500 activation fee, but registration, insurance and maintenance costs are included in the package.
The “Accelerate” tier, for $3,000 a month, gives customers access to 22 different Porsche models, including the 911 Carrera S, Panamera 4S sports sedan, Macan GTS and the Cayenne S E-Hybrid.
And the transaction won’t require negotiating with a dealer. Subscribers will pick and choose using a smartphone app developed by Clutch Technologies, a software development company, also based in Atlanta, focused on automotive subscription services.
“Porsche Passport will provide increased choice and flexibility for new target groups in the Atlanta market,” said Clutch President Vince Zappa. “Clutch is proud to be the enabling technology behind the service.”
Clutch will use predictive software – which will analyze such factors as past subscriber behavior, weather and seasonal trends – to help ensure the two Porsche dealers in the Atlanta area will have the necessary vehicles available at any moment. And the pilot program will be limited to just 50 customers, making it easier to avoid a run on any specific model.
Porsche is betting the Passport program will help draw in the tech and share-savvy millennials who are just starting to reach a level of earnings where they could consider the exotic sports car brand. According to PCNA CEO Zellmer, the goal is to increase mid- to long-term sales and brand loyalty.
“We now have millennials who are incredibly successful and have the financial power to own a Porsche, but might not be willing to own a Porsche today,” he said in an interview with the Bloomberg news service.
Porsche stressed that the Passport program is just a pilot, and it is clearly monitoring the way it works to see whether to expand the number of customers who can sign up and what other markets might eventually be added if it proves popular.
(Click Here for more about Volvo’s new sales process.)
But the German automaker isn’t the only one looking at alternative ways to market its vehicles. Audi, another brand operating under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, is offering a concierge rental service, Audi on Demand, in San Francisco. General Motors, meanwhile, launched its own pick-and-choose pilot in New York early this year, Book by Cadillac. It lets buyers switch vehicles as often as 18 times a year for a flat $1,500 fee.
Volvo just launched what it also has called a subscription service, Care by Volvo, that is, for now, limited to the brand-new XC40 model, however. But customers will pay a flat monthly fee, with no down-payment, and will be able to upgrade to a new Volvo in as little as 12 months.
Free pick-up and delivery for service, with buyers getting a loaner while their vehicle is in the shop, is also included, and that is a feature that a number of automakers have begun to offer, including Lincoln and Hyundai’s recent luxury spin-off, Genesis. Makers are hoping that by enhancing the ownership experience they can entice new buyers to give them a try.
The push for new retail models can be challenging, as automakers have to work around state franchise laws – though Tesla has been able to set up factory-owned showrooms in a number of states, in some cases going to court to get approval or by negotiating special dispensation with state lawmakers.
While many of these efforts are being launched by high-line brands, Hyundai this week also got into the game with the Shopper Assurance program. It will offer “transparent” pricing, the maker announced, flexible test drives, a simpler purchase process and, perhaps most appealing for many potential buyers, a three-day, money-back guarantee.
(Porsche’s performance plans include room for battery power. Click Here for the story.)
“We expect this to be a differentiator,” said Dean Evans, chief marketing officer, Hyundai Motor America, adding that, “Our research showed that 84% of people would visit a dealership that offered all four features over one that did not. It is the future of car buying.”