By on August 29, 2019

Porsche’s app-based subscription service is creeping into to four new cities in the United States and Canada. While technically still a pilot program designed to probe the market’s willingness, the expansion would indicate it’s one the automaker has some level of faith in.

We, however, are not among the true believers. Despite the added convenience of incorporating maintenance and insurance into one’s regular car payment, subscription services have not proven themselves to be an affordable way to own a car. In fact, they’re typically the most expensive way to procure a ride. But that doesn’t guarantee they won’t eventually catch on or make nameplates like Porsche oodles of cash, especially as the brand intends on making the service more costly. 

According to Bloomberg, the German automaker’s two-tiered monthly subscription service — Porsche Passport — will become 100 bucks dearer. After the $595 activation fee, that would make the entry-level Launch plan $2,100 a month and the Accelerate plan $3,100. The base plan allows customer access to the 718 Boxster, 718 Cayman, Macan, and Cayenne. Accelerate adds the 911 Carrera, Panamera, and numerous high-performance variants of the vehicles included in the Launch plan.

The company plans on adding Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, and Toronto as new subscription hubs. But Klaus Zellmer, head of Porsche Cars North America, confirmed that the only new model on the horizon was the battery-electric Taycan. It’ll become a subscription model sometime next year.

Porsche claims it has had some success with Passport since launching the service near its American headquarters in Atlanta back in 2017. While acknowledging that the base service costs roughly 20 percent more than simply leasing a Porsche for three years, the automaker claims the gambit brought in fresh meat. Of the 180 Atlantans that subscribed since the service’s debut, 80 percent were new to the brand. The company also says they were quite a bit younger than the typical Porsche customer.

What could those people have possibly seen in the service? A lack of commitment and abundance of convenience, most likely. Unlike most other subscription plans, Porsche lets you swap cars frequently. The only real limit is vehicle availability. If a car is not handy, you’ll have to wait. Otherwise, Porsche will gladly prepare your next car within a day’s time and have it delivered to your workplace or home.

That really sets Passport apart from other subscription services — most of which set strict limits on the number of times you can swap models in a given year. Porsche seems well aware of this and has attempted to highlight this in its marketing. Just want to test out a 911 before buying? Porsche recommends Passport. Always wanted to drive a 718 but didn’t have the cash to buy one? Porsche says you can try Passport for a few months and then cancel. Like the idea of swapping cars endlessly and having someone personally deliver a new one to you whenever you want? You get the idea.

“The question is not a bookkeeping exercise or accounting; the question is how much are you willing to pay for that much freedom?” said Zellmer. He also noted that Atlanta had proved itself a promising market. “If you engage 80 percent new people that have not engaged with your brand before, that’s certainly worth a lot,” he said.

Eager to circumvent some of the subscription troubles encountered by Volvo, Porsche also wants to maximize dealer involvement as soon as possible. The automaker intends on having storefronts take over the program operations entirely, encouraging them to use the service as a entry-point for later sales.

From Bloomberg:

Jim Mooradian, general manager of Gaudin Porsche of Las Vegas, expects to see demand because the desert city is booming. There’s been an influx of new residents from California, and lots of business travelers come to work on a project for a few months with a transportation stipend from their employer.

“We’re not going into this with the understanding we’re going to make a lot of money with it,” Mooradian said. “We’re using it as a sales tool.”

Porsche also has a short-term version of its subscription plan, called Drive, that lets you rent cars by the hour in Europe. While Americans have to book cars for at least 4 hours, the service is otherwise identical. It will soon branch out of Atlanta to accompany Passport in those new markets.

[Image: Porsche]

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7 Comments on “Porsche Expands Subscription Service In North America...”

  • avatar

    I think this will become somewhat common for high-end brands – but certainly not the norm. While not cheap, it’s is certainly cheaper than buying, maintaining, and insuring a Cayenne for daily driving and a Cayman/911 for the weekend toy. And the boredom factor – I know a guy who buys a new Porsche every year, which is pretty much like lighting money on fire. But he CAN – it’s nice to be an old-money trustafarian. This way you can about match your car to your outfit, LOL.

    • 0 avatar

      Who’s buying Porsche cars or SUVs? These are either leased, bought as demos or lease returns or otherwise used.

      Sure, the Monopoly man will buy a new one a year, but that ain’t volume.

      • 0 avatar

        70% of Porsches are bought new. Where did you get the idea that the majority was leased? Is it just some kind of B&B wishful thinking?

    • 0 avatar

      How is it cheaper? For about $1100 you can lease a decently equipped Cayanne. I just got a quick insurance quote in Michigan, (state with the highest insurance premiums) and it was an additional $127 per month for a decently equipped V8 model. Prepaid service is around $1300 for 36 months. With money factor, probably around an additional $40 per month on your lease. Fail to see how it’s cheaper.

  • avatar

    These subscription plans are silly because they have a big flaw: most of the time, one vehicle will really suit your needs.

    And then occasionally, you’d like something fun.

    Instead, why not offer a program where you generally have a rather pedestrian VW vehicle, and a certain number of times per year, you can reserve the use of a fun car (Porsche) or something with a lot of capacity (large SUV). Allow people to purchase additional uses of either for an add on, subject to availability.

  • avatar

    Don’t they have daily rental for exotics in Las Vegas?
    It would make more sense to daily drive a Camry or Fusion and rent a Ferrari a couple of times a month at $800 per day.

  • avatar

    Never forget that $3,100 to some people is like $310 to most people. So the argument that this is too expensive or doesn’t make long term financial sense is moot. And at least as Porsche has described it may have landed them 144 new Georgia customers for life.

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