Volkswagen’s Porsche division is piloting a peer-to-peer car sharing scheme in San Francisco and Los Angeles, as the brand looks to build a customer base based around flexible access to luxury vehicles.
The scheme, named “Host”, will allow drivers to rent out Porsche vehicles from private individuals for periods of between one day and one month. It was developed by Porsche’s digital innovation subsidiary in America, set up only last year, in partnership with Silicon Valley start-up Turo. Formerly known as RelayRides, Turo was among the first to introduce peer-to-peer car-sharing in 2010.
The Host scheme will be available through Turo’s app and website starting October 8.
“Partnerships with innovators like Turo are the key to ensuring that we can turn our vision into reality and provide our customers with completely new Porsche experiences,” said Thilo Koslowski, chief executive of Porsche Digital in the US. “By working with our partners, we are able to develop new mobility offerings and business models.”
Andre Haddad, chief executive of Turo, added: ““The collaboration with Porsche is a fantastic opportunity to reach a large number of enthusiasts via our marketplace. I have always been a Porsche fan myself, and I enjoy the feeling of handing over the keys to my own 911 to another Porsche connoisseur for a short time.”
The launch of Host builds on a number of initiatives Volkswagen’s luxury brand has been piloting to expand its customer footprint beyond the affluent car owners base, although the pilots have so far been restricted to selected urban areas in Germany and the US.
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The brand offers a car subscription product, called Passport, in the Atlanta area in the US state of Georgia. In line with other VW group brands, it has also been experimenting with car rentals through a scheme called Drive, first launched in selected cities in native Germany and subsequently extended overseas, again to Atlanta.
In an effort to improve customer engagement and retention, Porsche Digital has also invested in Miles, a Californian developer whose app “rewards” drivers as they collect miles – not unlike an airline. Additionally, the app works as a journey assistant à la Google Maps, providing Porsche with a wealth of data on customers’ movements both on and off the road.