Unlike sprawling dealerships in suburban auto malls, the planned small footprint Studios are designed for city centers where real estate is limited and expensive.
That model would move the Porsche brand closer to a younger clientele, who flock to fashionable and walkable mixed-use urban neighborhoods. “New target groups … are not willing to drive a long way to the dealership,” Gruner said. “They say, ‘Be where I am.’ ”
The first challenge will be enlisting dealers.
“We’re in quite some conversations,” Gruner said. “We need dealers to like the concept, find the right spot and then have the investment capabilities.”
But some dealers are wary of the model.
Robert DiStanislao, owner of RDS Automotive, which operates a Porsche store in suburban Philadelphia, is concerned that Porsche could be diluting the brand by going after price-conscious younger buyers.
“We’re in a beautiful niche spot between Mercedes and Bentley,” Di- Stanislao said. “Why are we chasing the downscale business that everybody’s knifing themselves over?”
The dealer advises Porsche to remain an aspirational brand and not chase the mainstream.
“Rather than following Tesla, follow Gucci and Louis Vuitton,” Di- Stanislao said. “That’s a much better business model because if you tell Americans they can’t have it, they have to have it.”
Persuading dealers to abandon traditional business ways is an “ongoing journey,” Gruner said.
Dealers need to sell cars today and make revenue today, the CEO acknowledged. But they also need to invest in educating and engaging new customer groups who might consider the brand tomorrow or the day after.
“You cannot only think about, ‘I have to sell something today,’ ” Gruner said.