Porsche targets Uber-loving millennials with luxury car rentals

Porsche is widening its experimentation with alternatives to traditional car ownership, adding pilot programs on both US coasts that target younger Americans for whom the concept of possessing an automobile is fluid at best.

The luxury automaker plans to offer daily or weekly rentals of its famous sports cars for Atlanta drivers, as well as car-sharing in San Francisco and Los Angeles through a partnership with startup Turo, a platform for car owners who want to rent out their vehicles.

This short-term rental service in Atlanta, called Porsche Drive, builds on a subscription program the company launched there last year. The initiative lets consumers spend four hours bombing around in a Macan, 718 Cayman or Boxster for as little as $269. Throw down $2 909, and you can be the “owner” of a 911 for a week. A concierge service that delivers the car within two hours is included, of course.

Volkswagen-owned Porsche is trying to reach millennials and even Generation Z drivers whose habits have been shaped by the transient economy built by Lyft, Uber and Airbnb. And it’s not alone. Earlier this year, BMW and Mercedes-Benz started car subscription programs in which customers have access to multiple vehicles, joining General Motors’ Cadillac, which started its Book subscription service in January, and Care by Volvo, which combines the lease, insurance and maintenance into one monthly payment.

“We want to offer a choice in how people experience the thrill of driving a Porsche,” Klaus Zellmer, head of Porsche Cars North America, said in a statement. “Consumers want options across a spectrum from access to ownership.”  

Through its partnership with Turo, dubbed Porsche Host, Porsche owners on the West Coast who are already on the peer-to-peer sharing platform will get to visit the company’s test track in Los Angeles and learn the finer points of driving. The program starts on October 8.

Turo has 288 000 car listings on its site and almost 8 million members. It operates in 56 countries and every U.S. state except New York. Porsche is the fourth-most searched brand on Turo over the past three years, behind BMW, Tesla and Mercedes, according to the startup.

Many users are car enthusiasts who use the service as an extended test drive before making a purchase. The platform also lets people afford more expensive models by renting out their car a few days a month, said Steve Webb, a spokesperson for Turo.

“When we launched in 2010, most manufacturers thought it could mean erosion of sales,” he said. “But to the opposite, fractional ownership can enable people to own a vehicle.”

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