Porsche tests online car sales

October 28, 2019

Buying a car on Sunday is now an option—online, anyway—thanks to Porsche, which has inked a deal with 25 dealers nationwide to provide online retail options for its customers. 

This approach doesn't cut out the middleman—not completely, anywaybut it does allow buyers who know what they want to place their orders without ever visiting a dealership. Customers can complete every part of the transaction from their homes, from submitting paperwork and identification to handling trade-ins, financing/leasing and even insurance. 

"Porsche is always looking for new ways to meet customer expectations," said Porsche NA president Klaus Zellmer. "For our dealerships, who are at the core of our strategic initiatives, we think this blend of digital and physical interaction with customers will only strengthen their business."

On the surface, this approach seems particularly appropriate for Porsche, whose customers expect a great deal of customization and are more likely to order a car than buy one right off the lot. Puzzlingly, however, Porsche says this program is currently limited to in-stock inventory (new or pre-owned), cutting special orders out of the equation for the time being. 

This program is not exclusive to the United States; Porsche is launching a similar program in Germany, the company announcement said. As Automotive News Europe reports, Porsche isn't alone. Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover and several others are also pursuing e-tailing options in Europe

While Porsche's approach falls well short of the direct-sales strategy promised by many automakers, it has the benefit of not provoking the sort of push-back that has stymied Tesla from trying to subvert the franchise dealer model. While direct-car sales and subscription models may seemingly threaten the protected dealer model, the dealer is an integral part of the Porsche pilot program by involving the buyer in the broader Porsche ecosystem that includes vehicle servicing and updates.

"Physical and digital retail experiences have to work hand in hand, yet stay typically Porsche," Detlev von Platen, executive board member for Porsche AG, said in a statement. "Offering our customers an enhanced digital option for acquiring a Porsche makes this experience even more accessible and more convenient.” 


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