Porsche is launching a pilot program to offer online sales of new and used cars for the first time in the U.S., reflecting changing consumer preferences and taking digital retailing about as far as it can go under current dealer franchise laws.
Porsche says it has already launched the program as a joint pilot with 25 of its 191 U.S. Porsche dealers, with a wider rollout possible if all goes well. It will allow customers to move beyond using the web merely for researching vehicle specs and prices and let them view inventories, calculate payments and trade-in value, get approved for credit and sign up for financing and insurance options through Porsche Financial Services. They can also upload photos of their personal documents for ID verification and of their car for trade-in valuation. Dealers will then prepare final paperwork for customers to come in and sign before taking delivery.
The program means buyers need visit the dealer only once to collect their Porsche, with the ability to do all the other paperwork from their computer or mobile device. “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,” Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, said in a statement.
A Porsche spokesperson said the participating dealers have installed and launched the service on their dealership websites over the past month, so the program is already live. Porsche is also launching a similar program in Germany.
Automakers have been exploring new ways to overhaul the car-buying experience as customers express dissatisfaction with the traditional automotive dealership model. Tesla most notably employs a direct retail model, bypassing dealer franchises altogether in favor of company-owned stores and online retailing, but that leaves it unable to sell its vehicles in many states with strict franchise laws. Porsche also offers a subscription service called Porsche Passport in select markets that starts at $2,000 a month and includes unlimited ability to switch models.
“We do not benchmark but instead develop new programs based on how we can best exceed customer expectations,” a Porsche spokesperson told Autoblog.
The new pilot covers all new and pre-owned vehicles in a dealership’s inventory.