Australian-made Porsche app offers one-touch parking

Melbourne Porsche drivers have welcomed a smoother ride afforded by the car maker's collaboration with UbiPark - despite the lockdowns

A locally designed app that offers contactless off-street parking for Porsche drivers looks set to become the foundation for many more digital functions and part of the brand’s driving experience internationally. 

Integrated with Apple CarPlay, the Porsche Park app enables payment with driver’s account details, which are stored in CarPlay. It enables a driver to choose which lane they will use, and ensures the boom gate opens automatically. This is achieved via a Bluetooth beacon at the car park, which detects the approach of a car with CarPlay. 

This smooth departure is activated by a touch of the car's entertainment screen where the Park app sits. There is no leaning out an open window, no fiddling with car park tickets or credit cards. As well as the safety factor, Porsche is marketing effortless parking for drivers in a market where convenience equals luxury. 

“We realised we had to align digitally with a smooth customer journey and take driving headaches away,” said Porsche manager – new technology, Matthias Prilipp, who leads the car company's connectivity program.  

Previously under the Porsche Connect program, the most obvious pain point had been removed when seamless one-touch functions for navigation were offered. The program then added infotainment options, and remote-control functions. Some functions are especially vital in Porsche’s electric models whose drivers need to know the level of remaining battery charge among other things. 

“The next pain point is parking – where can I do it, how can I do it easily,” said Prilipp, who pitched the proposal internally to a Porsche innovation workshop in late 2019.

Porsche then partnered with UbiPark, which already had a no-contact parking system for off-street car parks and was able to integrate it with the Porsche Connect system and the Apple platform.  

“Apple had not seen an app like that and was extremely interested, so we shared a lot ahead of gaining app approval this year,” said Prilipp. 

Porsche is thrilled with the results of the app’s trial in Melbourne CBD which began in May after inviting owners to try the app. Despite Melbourne’s most recent lockdown, hundreds of drivers there have downloaded and joined the trial. To date, a couple of dozen Melbourne car parks are involved but the system can link with hundreds of car parks. Melbourne’s lockdown has made it hard to realistically gauge usage. 

"Unfortunately we didn't see another lockdown coming but we wanted to do testing on a small scale anyway,” said Prilipp. “We expected we might get 250 drivers downloading the app in the first year but almost that many – 200 owners – have downloaded in the first month. So our expectations have been exceeded.

“There's a lot of public excitement around the ease provided by these digital functions and, right now, we are seeing strong demand for our cars – demand is exceeding supply.”  

Prilipp expected Sydney drivers will get their invitation to use the app in July and other Australian cities will follow. 

“It's very scalable so it’s easy to roll out to other cities and even globally,” said Prilipp. He also cited high interest from Porsche overseas where digital parking functions are not integrated with Apple CarPlay so gates don’t open automatically. 

Prilipp said parking apps in Europe to date have generally been based on licence plate recognition, as they are here, but still require a credit card and drivers to lean out the open window. 

Not only does Porsche anticipate the Australian app is likely to be adopted by the company internationally, Prilipp also expected to build many more functions onto the app. He saw the app being useful well beyond car park entry and exit. 

“The outlook is that we’ll build other digital services on the Park app: It should be useful for any services which use off-street car parks such as parcel delivery or shopping,” he said. 

The parking app can be used on any Porsche with Apple CarPlay, which enables safer, voice-activated iPhone functions from a car’s built-in display. All current Porsche models include Apple CarPlay and the Porsche Park app. Older Porsche models can retrofit Porsche Classic Communication Management units to add Apple CarPlay capability. 

The app is available for Porsche drivers from the iPhone App Store.  

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