Automakers are looking at how to best navigate a digitizing world where more and more retail transactions happen wholly online. Customers are starting to expect seamless purchasing options that meet them where they are, and fighting for their attention – and dollars – is no easy task. For Porsche, that means eschewing the traditional dealership model for boutique studios that target potential up-and-coming buyers.
The company already has Studios in Asia and Europe, and the US will join the growing list of countries as the first one is expected to open in Portland, Oregon, early next year. Porsche Cars North America CEO Kjell Gruner told Automotive News about the company’s plans and how the locations will build brand relationships more than sell cars, functioning more like an Apple Store and staffed with Porsche product specialists. Gruner told the publication there’d be no sales pressure at the new studios.
Porsche’s boutique Studio retail spaces aren’t unique. Tesla does not have a traditional dealer network. Other luxury brands, like Polestar, have tried to replicate that result with more informal locations that offer unique experiences – a community event space, informative classes, product workshops – beyond the core product. Porsche Studios would offer similar non-car-related activities. However, much like the Apple Store, other tech companies tried to replicate it with mediocre success.
Automotive News found that not all Porsche dealers are excited about the company’s plans. Robert DiStanislao, the owner of RDS Automotive, told the publication that he worried Porsche would dilute the brand by chasing a younger clientele. Automakers don’t control a lot of the car-buying process due to the franchise model, for better and worse, but new technologies are making them rethink their role, which could put increasing financial pressure on dealers, especially since EVs are not the maintenance money makers that dealer service departments need.