Porsche customers wait - and wait - for delivery

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Porsche customers wait - and wait - for delivery


Porsche vehicles waiting to be delivered or sold sit in a storage yard in the free trade zone at Pyeongtaek port in Gyeonggi. Porsche’s new Cayman and Panamera models have yet to obtain approval from the Korean government and their deliveries are delayed. [KIM CHOON-SIK]

Mr. Kim placed a pre-order on the new Porsche Cayman in June and even put down a few million won as deposit. However, a few months have passed since the vehicle was supposedly to be delivered to his door, and Kim has yet to see the car he ordered.

After a few complaint calls to Porsche Korea, Kim was told that vehicles will be delivered starting Jan. 2 in the order of pre-order. Still, as of March 6, the company has yet to update the buyers on any details about the delivery.

Porsche, a German automaker that specializes in high-end sports cars, are under fire in Korea for having local consumers pre-order some of its new models without taking proper steps to register the automobiles properly with the authorities. The models of concern are Porsche’s Cayman, Cayman S, Panamera 4S and Panamera Turbo. While it is not so rare that deliveries are delayed because of a temporary shortage of supply due to strikes or accidents, it’s rare that customers who pre-order wait for their cars for such a long time due to registration issues.

Analysts say Porsche Korea began receiving pre-orders on their Cayman and Cayman S models in April and on its Panamera models in September. About 250 customers like Mr. Kim are waiting for their vehicles to arrive after having made deposits.

Some of these customers said that Porsche Korea’s initial delivery schedule was moved from November of last year to January.

But, the JoongAng Ilbo found that Porsche Korea had not even submitted all the documents necessary to register these models with the government agencies.

To sell a vehicle in Korea, an automaker must register the vehicle with three different ministries: the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. However, while Cayman and Cayman S models have obtained approval by the Trade Ministry, documents to register two Panamera models are yet to be submitted to the Trade Ministry. On top of that, the Environment Ministry and Transport Ministry have yet to receive registration documents on all four models.

“Porsche Korea hasn’t applied for registration on new Panamera and Cayman models,” said Lee Kyung-bin, an official at the transportation environment division of the Environment Ministry, which is in charge of inspection of the vehicle’s emissions and noise tests.

Moon Sung-hwan, an official at the building and transportation energy management division of Korea Energy Agency under the Trade Ministry in charge of inspection on vehicle’s fuel efficiency, said, “Cayman has completed registration process [with Trade Ministry] last June but Panamera models are yet to be registered.”

The Transport Ministry, which registers specifications of the vehicles, also hasn’t seen any applications by Porsche Korea.

“It seems as though Porsche Korea lacks preparatory steps to obtain approval [by the Korean government],” said an analyst. Another official from the Ministry of Environment speculated that after Porsche Korea was found to be have falsified documents on some of its models and received suspension on sales, the company must be taking necessary measures internally for approval.

Despite such speculations, Porsche Korea purports there is no problem with the registration process. ”Our internal standard is very high and we deliver the vehicles to the customers once they are 100 percent ready to go,” said the company. “There isn’t any problem with the process.”

Some of these vehicles that were supposed to be delivered to local customers may be sitting at the free trade zone nearby Pyeongtaek port, Gyeonggi. “Calcium chloride (salt water) is harmful to metals,” said Kim Pil-soo, a professor of automotive engineering professor at Daelim University College. “It is possible even for painted vehicles to experience corrosion on certain parts if they are exposed to the wind from the ocean. And if such problem is not spotted during delivery, then automakers don’t admit to its own fault and the consumers may end up taking all the repercussion of the damage.”

And at the moment, the exact time in which Porsche Korea will finally make delivery on the pre-ordered vehicle is up in the air. Normally, obtaining approval from the Environment Ministry takes about one to two months, while those from the Trade Ministry and Transport Ministry take about one to two weeks. This means, customers may have to wait for another two months minimum until they can finally get their hands on their cars.

Some customers, who put down a deposit of as much as five million won ($4,355), may take collective action. They submitted a complaint to the Transport Ministry this month and Porsche Korea responded that an “internal matter” is delaying the delivery. When the JoongAng Ilbo inquired, Porsche Korea said that its official stance is it cannot provide an answer at the moment.

Such response is in stark contrast to how other foreign carmakers reacted under similar circumstances.

Nissan, for instance, had to postpone delivery of its Infiniti Q30 gasoline model for about four months because of a delay in registration but it did not receive pre-order deposits from the customers. It also provided careful explanations as soon as the process lagged and eventually obtained approval in January.

Volvo Korea’s S90, whose customers paid their pre-orders in September, didn’t receive approval for some of its models - the T5 and D4- although the cars were scheduled to be delivered in December.

However, they made it clear in advance that registering with the Environment Ministry may be delayed and received pre-orders only from customers who agreed to wait.

BY MOON HEE-CHUL [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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