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Porsche catering to Australia’s enthusiast market

911 emergency: The Porsche Sport Driving School allows participants access to a wide selection of vehicles – including the iconic rear-engined 911 – to push their limits in a safe and monitored environment.

Customer events and Porsche Sport Driving School build positive brand perception

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Porsche logo12 May 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

PORSCHE Cars Australia (PCA) is differentiating itself from its premium sportscar competitors by offering its customers unique driving experiences, while also boosting brand perception with its Porsche Sport Driving School.

Speaking to GoAuto, PCA public relations director Paul Ellis said the connection between customer and brand continues long after a Porsche is driven away from the dealership.

“We tend to have pretty close relationships with our customers,” he said. “You don’t buy a car and we pat you on the back and say ‘see you next time when you choose to sell your car’. We engage with our customers, we maintain good dialogue with them through our customer relationship management programs and we offer lots.”

Despite the majority of its sales being for its Macan and Cayenne SUVs, Mr Ellis said “people buy our SUVs because we build the world’s best sportscar (911)”, and its customer event days reflect the German marque’s motorsport heritage.

Mr Ellis said one of the recent owner events included a sell-out Targa Tasmania experience where “we drive every competitive bit of road before the competition cars do”.

“It’s 40 customers in their own cars ranging from GT3s to base model Boxsters to some of the cooler older 911s – 996s and these types of things,” he said.

“You come away with us for a week and we look after everything. You come across on the Spirit of Tasmania, we put you up in the best accommodation we can find, we have good entertainment and we interview drivers.

“Basically they are just socialising and having fun just driving their cars. It goes back to what Porsche is all about, it’s not about owning a car and parking it in your garage, it’s about driving your car.”

Other events on the calendar include a glamping trip to the Bathurst 12 Hour and special access to the Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix – both of which include exclusive track time for Porsche owners.

However, for those who do not want to commit to ownership, the brand also has its Porsche Sport Driving School experience designed to highlight the athletic characteristics of its line-up, and features five levels from basic skills all the way up to racing in a 911 GT3 Cup Car.

“The vast majority are not Porsche customers and, to be honest, that’s a beautiful thing because it’s giving more people exposure to the brand and to the product and that’s great,” Mr Ellis said.

“In fact, I’d say over 80 per cent of the participants are not Porsche customers and perhaps will never be in a position to buy and own a Porsche, but they can say ‘I’ve driven Porsches’.”

In operation for well over a decade, the first two levels – conducted at the Mount Cotton Training Centre in Queensland – cost $1485 each and run for an entire day to get driver’s accustomed to scenarios including drifting in a Cayman, high-speed ABS emergency braking in a Panamera, off-roading in a Cayenne and closed road circuit lapping in a 911.

Moving up to level three costs $1870 and includes racetrack driving at Queensland Raceway, while level four and five will cost $3850 and $6600 respectively, and includes one-on-one coaching in a 911 GT3 and GT3 Cup Car.

Mr Ellis explained that customers will tend to lock in several levels in a sequence to make the most of the experience and Porsche welcomes about 1200 participants through the program, from Australia and overseas, each year.

Customer drive programs and the Porsche Sport Driving School experience are offered throughout the world, but Mr Ellis said the events are especially important in the performance hungry Australian market.

“The Australian market is known as the enthusiasts’ market, so we’re known internationally in the Porsche world,” he said.

“They go racing, they love their road cars, they take them and they drive them on racetracks. People get out and drive their cars.

“When you buy a Porsche, you are buying into a lifestyle. We do things that other brands cannot do, or simply don’t want to do.”

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