By Matt Joyce
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
In 2019, it’s likely you take advantage of a subscription service. Maybe it’s Netflix, or maybe it’s a meal delivery option like Blue Apron.
How about Porsche?
You might have heard of the prestigious German automaker’s Porsche Passport, a pilot program it launched last year aimed at luring younger, wealthier drivers to the brand with the promise of a full fleet of Porsche vehicles at their fingertips. Automotive News reported in October that after a successful stint in the Atlanta market, Porsche could be looking to expand further in the U.S.
Per Automotive News:
About 120 people have cycled through the pilot program in Atlanta, which starts at $2,000 a month and offers unlimited vehicle swaps, unrestricted mileage and on-demand access to Porsche models.
“When we started the program, we said, ‘Let’s find out whether somebody’s out there who currently doesn’t engage with Porsche because they don’t want to commit to a car purchase or a leasing scheme,’” [Porsche Cars North America Chief Klaus] Zellmer said at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion event here last month.
Porsche’s interest in expanding the program reflects what the industry believes is a seismic shift from vehicle ownership to transportation access. Subscription programs offer an alternative to traditional lease, finance- or cash-purchase models.
Of course, not every driver in America can afford a $2,000 monthly subscription to live life in the fast lane with Porsche. But more broadly, it’s reflective of the fundamentally changing nature of how people are choosing to get around. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where a different automaker offers a more budget-friendly option for the average American in the not-too-distant future.
In 2019, not everyone needs—or wants—a personal automobile, and there are various reasons for this. In major urban centers, in particular, the cost of living continues to climb—and it gets even higher when you factor car ownership into the mix. Meanwhile, the ridesharing giants have made it easier than ever to hail a ride exactly when, where and how you need it. Other companies like Zipcar are rethinking the concept of individual car ownership entirely. The service enables drivers to pick up a car in one spot, take it out for an hour or two, and return it to the same spot. It’s rapidly growing in hot markets, and Zipcar recently announced new partnerships with automakers to provide additional cars.
There’s also the promise of automation, which has automakers deeply rethinking the way cars can and will operate in the future. In commercial trucking, for instance, automation has shown not just promise of greater efficiency, but also the ability to help fleets overcome a significant driver shortage throughout the industry. Daimler Trucks, one of the leading truck manufacturers, recently announced their intention to heavily invest in automated trucking—and at the Consumer Electronics Show, no less. And for consumer companies like Uber, the push toward self-driving vehicles continues.
Car subscriptions. Ride and vehicle sharing. Automated fleets. Not to mention the significant implications of electrification. Some of the biggest names in both the automotive and tech industries are working to make these things a reality, and they impact all areas of driving, from commercial trucking fleets to new possibilities in consumer mobility.
So, what comes next?
Each of these trends has revolutionary new demands for the vehicle, and it’s the responsibility of the auto industry to account for those changes.
Consider that the average driver may be operating their car for five percent of a given day. Compare that to a driverless car or heavy-duty truck, for instance, that can theoretically operate for days at a time (or longer) without shutting down, or a rideshare vehicle that may be utilized by different drivers for 70 percent of the day.
That kind of peak-time operation considerably impacts the overall operation of the drivetrain, and today’s cars aren’t necessarily built for that kind of wear and tear. Neither are today’s conventional engine lubricants and fluids. The length of a typical oil drain today is no match for 70 percent vehicle utilization. Using today’s technology, oil changes would become far more frequent, as would an entire range of additional regular maintenance needs for the vehicle. Headlights. Brakes. Just about anything.
And it means that lubrication technology must continue to evolve and provide the needed performance demanded by a changing automotive landscape.
Our view: At Lubrizol, we’re committed to meeting our end of that bargain. No matter the technological evolution, fluids used throughout the vehicle are a major part of reliable operation. Engine oil specifically must continue to provide robust engine protection under increasingly strenuous driving conditions.
Maybe it’s continuous operation. Maybe it will even be flying cars, someday. Regardless, higher-performing fluids are a necessity, and we’re working hard to make it happen.