- with porsche's new u.s. program, shoppers will be able to find a car, negotiate a price, and fill out paperwork online.
- only 25 of porsche's 191 dealers will be part of the pilot program.
- a full online buying experience, right down to home delivery of the vehicle after sale, is in some dealers' future plans.
porsche has introduced a way for car shoppers in the united states to buy a new or used vehicle online. well, almost. porsche says its new program "launches online car sales in the u.s. for the first time," but that's vague enough to need some clarification.
first, the online project is limited to just 25 of porsche's 191 u.s. dealerships. second, porsche admits that this isn't really selling a car online, soup to nuts. what's happening is that the "vast majority of the purchase process is moved online under this pilot," a porsche spokesperson told car and driver. the program is only for shoppers looking to buy a new or used porsche out of dealer stock.
to be fair, the list of things you can do online includes most of the time-consuming paperwork that usually happens at a dealership, from figuring out financing to evaluating a trade-in, checking your credit, calculating your payment, and getting insurance through porsche financial services. "everything about the sale is arranged online; only the final signature and delivery happen at the dealer," the spokesperson said. even that last step might be avoidable in the future, since some porsche dealers are considering adding home delivery to the process. the shopping process is being made available on participating dealer websites.
"right now we are focused on launching the online tool and evaluating how it is received by customers," the spokesperson said. "porsche's goal is to eventually offer the vehicle delivery experience at a place the customer chooses."
logistically, shoppers who decide to actually get a porsche online will have to upload copies of their ids and photos of their trade-in vehicles for evaluation. after a dealership is happy with the submission, it will have the paperwork ready for the customer to sign at the store.
price negotiations are currently available to online shoppers on their phones or browsers. porsche said it will be watching the pilot program and looking at the way customers and dealers interact and negotiate prices. porsche said customers will be able to "express their pricing expectations to the dealers" if they choose and finalize the deal online.
the main point, porsche says, is to give porsche customers another option in an increasingly digital retail landscape. "allowing for a seamless transition between the online and offline experience in our opinion will be a key success factor for both dealers and customers," the spokesperson said.
if the project proves to be popular, and if porsche decides it's working for both dealers and customers, it could expand to other dealerships across the country.
for now, porsche says buyers can peruse vehicle listings at any of its participating dealers, no matter what state they're in. a similar program is being launched in germany.