Porsche opens pop-up store in the CBD to sell cars and merchandise

The pop-up store at Guoco Tower will be used until its permanent facility in Beach Road is ready by mid-2023. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - The Central Business District (CBD) is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking about buying a luxury sports car.

But the CBD is where German sports car manufacturer Porsche is locating its physical showroom for its merchandise and cars. It will also be offering test drives to prospective buyers there.

Until its permanent space at Guoco Midtown in Beach Road is ready in the middle of the year, it will be operating a pop-up store at Guoco Tower in Tanjong Pagar.

Officially opened on Wednesday, the pop-up store has a coffee bar and a single car on display, and carries Porsche-branded merchandise. Parked in the building is a range of Porsche models set aside for customers to test drive.

A team of seven sales staff and six product experts are rostered to be at the showroom.

Having a showroom in the city is an initiative by Porsche Singapore, which was set up by the German manufacturer to sell cars directly to customers here.

The company replaced Stuttgart Auto from Eurokars Group, the brand’s authorised dealer in Singapore since 1985, on Jan 1 this year.

Mr Karsono Kwee, the executive chairman of Eurokars Group, sits on the advisory board of the new company as its chairman to give advice.

On Dec 31, the Porsche signage on the showroom at 29 Leng Kee Road, near Alexandra Road, was taken down, marking an end to the dealership arrangement.

With the move, Porsche no longer has any official presence along Singapore’s motor belt.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Monday ahead of the opening, Porsche’s spokesman said that Singapore is now the only place where the Stuttgart-based manufacturer has direct and absolute control over the official sales operations in a country.

This is unlike in China, Germany and the United States, where Porsche’s direct retail operations compete with independent dealers, who are also representing the brand.

In an interview on Porsche’s media website in 2020, the brand’s director of digital sales said that the company wanted customers to be able to “experience and buy all Porsche products and services” both online and offline.

The exact approach in each market where the carmaker operates is adapted to suit local conditions.

The company’s spokesman told ST that it is using the Singapore market to try out new ways of doing business, which may include processes that are not so obvious to the customers.

A more extensive online shopping portal may be rolled out, making it possible for a customer to both order a car like the limited edition $1.2 million Porsche 911 Sport Classic or “add to cart” some Porsche-branded merchandise from the comfort of home.

Currently, it is possible to research and configure a car on the brand’s website, but not place a confirmed order for a car online.

Porsche said that in the future, car buyers will be able to make their purchases completely or partially online, depending on their preference.

Mr Andre Brand, general manager of Porsche Singapore, said that prices will remain the same as before.

Even though the company is a subsidiary of the manufacturer – as opposed to a third-party – Singapore will not get preferential treatment when it comes to the allocation of specially desirable models or how quickly they will be delivered.

Mr Brand said that this is “to be fair” to other markets in the region.

Instead, his team will be working on other areas that will enhance the experience of buying and owning a Porsche, such as more unique brand partnerships and connecting directly with owners and fans.

Mr Brand said that with signs that the global supply chain is stabilising, waiting times for delivery should improve in the coming months. To have cars ready for delivery to customers, Porsche Singapore keeps some of the more popular models in stock.

For others that may be built to order, it can take many months before they arrive in the country.

This could mean the brand will likely have to continue to live with parallel importers selling Porsche cars in Singapore.

In 2021, around 200 units out of the recorded 680 Porsches registered here did not come from the official sales channel.

Parallel importers tend to price their cars lower than official channels do, and usually have a ready stock of models, so customers do not need to wait months to receive their cars. But Mr Brand said such vehicles may not have all the features enabled like officially supplied cars. An example is being able to store the driver’s preferred settings for seats and infotainment, instead of having to make adjustments every time the driver starts the car.

While the shopping experience is being overhauled, the service and repair of Porsches will continue to be undertaken by Eurokars Group, albeit only at its facility in Tanjong Penjuru, in the Pioneer area.

This facility has taken over the resources from the one in Leng Kee Road when it closed late in 2022.

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