By on March 28, 2019

Ultra-rare automobiles have a tendency to be scooped up by speculators hoping to turn a buck. Manufacturers hate this, as they see none of that sweet, secondhand scratch — plus, the vehicles frequently end up as garage queens tucked away from the public eye. While a bit of a grimy move, it’s easy to understand why someone might be willing to fall from a manufacturer’s good graces so they can flip an already expensive automobile for several times what they paid.

Automakers have come up with interesting ways to circumvent the problem, often establishing hard limits on when a customer can resell a particularly in-demand model, but it never manages to stop it from happening entirely. However, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume thinks he has a novel solution — one that we’re a bit torn on. 

According to a recent interview with Autocar, Blume believes a subscription model could be affixed to limited-run models as a way to stop customers from flipping its more collectable offerings. “Our interest is to sell cars for drivers, not dealers,” said Blume. “We put so much love into them, with the goal of people driving them not to put them in a garage.”

While this strategy seems like it would work as intended, it would also set an odd precedent. A subscription-only path seems a little daft. We’re sure there are a great number of wealthy Porsche fans that just want to drive, but speculators are a big part of why the company can ask for so much on its rarer models.

Still, we’re willing to admit to a slight bias against subscription plans in general — at least in their current form. At present, most plans result in a higher monthly fee than leasing with insufficient perks to rationalize their inflated price. But Blume never explained exactly how the plan would work, while also mentioned the possibility of leasing — which we think makes better sense overall.

“One thing we could do is look at leasing models to try to avoid this kind of dealing, so the car doesn’t get sold on for a period of time,” he said. “It is one solution.”

While it’s easy to accuse Porsche of trying to hunt for a new way of lining its pockets, we don’t think that’s all there is to this. The brand likes to present itself as the nameplate for drivers, not wealthy collectors who see cars primarily as investments — though there’s plenty of that, too. Flipping has gotten out of hand over the past few years; the company doesn’t want its image warped any further. If it can score a few extra bucks in the process of finding a remedy, all the better.

[Images: Porsche]

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14 Comments on “Porsche Figures a Subscription/Leasing Plan Just Might Discourage Flippers...”

  • avatar

    If there are so many people out there willing to pay double the sticker or more, why not just make more of the car in question? They can’t have it both ways….if they artificially limit production, they will get collectors and flippers buying them up to resell to those who aren’t lucky enough or favored enough to get in first.

    This nonsense where you have to be some kind of VIP to buy the latest model is stupid. I have a hard time feeling bad for Porsche when they (or their dealers) turn away people with money who want to buy their product.

    • 0 avatar

      I was going to suggest the same thing, and a solution: tell buyers that for every car sold within the first (year, two years, whatever), they will make two more, which will lower the price and discourage flippers.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re trying to capture a premium for limiting production, they kvetch about people responding rationally to the situation they’ve created. The answer is simple, build enough cars to meet demand.

  • avatar

    If they are serious about this, they will only SELL standard models. Turbos and all the special models will be available for SUBSCRIPTION only, with annual renewals (absolutely no sales/leases). Subscription includes all maintenance (within limits derived from expected sporting use) and insurance. At the end of some defined time period, 5 years? 10 years?, the cars would the AUCTIONED by the FACTORY so that the manufacturer sees the collectible blush. So now there’s an additional motivation (and funding line) for these ultimately collectibles. There would no long be the current overpowering motivation to “invest” in these special models so the speculators will go back to Beany Babies, troll beads, and real estate. The gearheads get to drive again. Of course the subscription would be expensive – the cars themselves are out of reach of ordinary mortals anyway – but the cars would be more likely used instead of garaged.

  • avatar

    Porsche creates this market and then it’s upset at it. Dealers are shady about this stuff as well, I’ve heard some pretty sickening stories about how you can get to the front of the line.

  • avatar

    I think it’s a great idea. Bundle in a weekend at a Porsche Experience Center and this sounds like a great way for people who want to experience these cars in their element to actually enjoy them. I’d gladly pay $5K or so to have a GT3 for a week or so with an included track day and/or PEC weekend.

  • avatar

    Yeah, I’d love to rent a Porsche from the factory. But, if I loved it (and won the lottery) I’d be 100% dead set on owning one. MY car and all that. I guess you could get away with forcing a lease, but you could never get away with not offering a residual buyout at the end, and that would be at the risk of making your customers feel taken advantage of with the company double dipping each transaction.

    Then again, what do I know? Maybe their customers will be fine with not owning their cars, but my prediction is that it all falls apart with some angry well heeled customers walking away from dealer conversations. It just seems kind of insulting, and this is a purely discretionary luxury buy with many competing options available, so good luck Porsche.

  • avatar

    Blume could solve his problem by leasing with no buy-out option. At the end of the lease, turn the car back to the dealer or renew the lease at a rate that matches its current market value which could be higher or lower.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Mr. Blume: What anyone does with the product you sell them legally is none of your effing business.

  • avatar

    Ferrari found themselves in this situation when Enzo died. They sold 288GTOs for about $100K only for speculators to make more money than they ever did. Their first solution was the F40, which was a decontented 288GTO with the boost turned up. They charged what the flippers were getting for GTOs, and there was much rejoicing in Maranello. Then they made twice as many as they said they would, and there were legal actions by owners who felt deceived and ripped off. That’s when Ferrari did what Porsche wants to do now. The F50 was only available as a lease with a purchase option at the end. There were also rules regarding what one could and couldn’t do with their rented F50. The end result was a stigma that the F50 has never fully shaken and Ferrari going back to selling cars at prices where they made what they wanted.

    Porsche can play this dumb game if they want, but they could also end up with a bunch of used turbo automatics that aren’t considered any better than what they’re offering new down the road. Porsches will only increase in value as used cars for as long as everything they make is less desirable to enthusiasts than what came before. Every new Porsche is better than the next, so to speak. We’ve already hit the point where auction sell-through rates for collector Porsches are tumbling as the number of resurrected cars is exceeding the number of people interested in paying the prices seen over the past few years.

  • avatar

    “We put so much love into them, with the goal of people driving them not to put them in a garage.”

    Proposed technological fix: Reverse Geofencing… if not driven outside a given area within a certain period of time, vehicle initiates a fire, burning down your garage and your entire collection of vehicles. More selective option – under the same preconditions, vehicle dumps a vial of sodium silicate into cylinder #1.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    It’s hard to care about super-rich guys complaining about super-rich guys. The previous and older 911s are better, anyway, especially if you want to daily a stick.

  • avatar

    A socialist complaining about capitalism – what else is new? Make enough for the demand and you won’t have a flourishing secondary market.

  • avatar

    Leases are based on the difference between the beginning value of a vehicle and the residual value at the end of the lease. If a vehicle is worth more at the end of the lease, wouldn’t the lease cost be negative, i.e., they have to pay you to own it?

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