Legendary Cars have Already Driven from Smíchov for 30 Years
Road legends enjoy exemplary care in Smíchov
Owning a superb car is every boy’s dream. Although he can fulfil such a dream only in adulthood, he then appreciates it all the more, especially when he manages to acquire a darling of a famous sports car brand. Some of these cars already have a traditional home in Smíchov. The car showroom bearing the proud name Porsche Praha - Smíchov is managed by Vlastimil Fric. The interview with him confirms that there is always something happening in the field of the sales of new and used cars. And most importantly, to the benefit of the customer.
The Porsche Praha - Smíchov showroom is that of one of the longest-running car dealers in the Czech Republic. In what aspect do you play first fiddle and how did the history of car sales in Vrchlického Street in Smíchov begin?
Porsche Praha - Smíchov has the longest tradition of all the establishments of the Porsche Inter Auto CZ network. It was opened in Autumn 1992 and began under the name Porsche Inter Auto Praha – back then still under provisional conditions – selling and servicing Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche. We can say that already in the mid-1990s, Porsche in Smíchov was a benchmark of top quality customer cars' sales and service.
In 1996, we took in the rapidly developing Škoda brand. The entire company already bore the current name Porsche Praha - Smíchov. Another project was launched – to expand the Porsche Praha - Smíchov establishment with the exclusive separate premises of the Audi brand. From May 2001, this decision has provided prospective as well as current customers the opportunity to perceive the maximum degree of identity with each of the brands. At that time, the showrooms also included a Used Car Department and Porsche, but in 2009 the brand moved to the completely new Porsche Centre in Prosek. Since 2012, we have been the only authorised dealer and service provider of Bentley in the Czech Republic. In 2015, we also became the only authorised dealer and service centre for Lamborghini in the territory of the Czech Republic.
Porsche Inter Auto, with which your car showroom is closely linked, is very successful in car sales. Please could you tell us more about the company?
Porsche Inter Auto CZ spol. s.r.o. is a 100 % subsidiary of the Austrian company, Porsche Inter Auto based in Salzburg, owned by Porsche Holding Salzburg. The Austrian Porsche Inter Auto company ranks among the most successful and significant business entities in the field of car sales and service, not only in Europe, but also worldwide. Our company Porsche Inter Auto CZ is an importer of the Porsche brand, an exclusive representative of Bentley and Lamborghini, and one of the largest Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT and Škoda dealers in the Czech Republic. We have one of the largest stocks of new vehicles, and also an inexhaustible number of used cars in the selection of our dealerships. More than 25 000 new and used cars are sold annually in Porsche Inter Auto CZ. In the Czech Republic, we currently employ more than 800 employees in 10 branches – in Prague, Pilsen, Brno, Olomouc, Hradec Králové, České Budějovice, Ostrava and Opava. All car showrooms have at their disposal the latest technology and the latest know-how of an international company.
What brands and types of cars do you sell at Porsche Praha - Smíchov?
Over the period of our operations, thanks to the wide range of quality services and a professional approach, we have become a sought-after partner for the purchase and servicing of Volkswagen, Škoda, Audi cars, Volkswagen utility vehicles and the luxury Lamborghini and Bentley brands. The service sector also includes the Seat brand. Our premises boast the important PIA Market scheme, which offers used cars of clearly declared origin with precisely defined technical condition. So I can say that we satisfy the widest clientele.
The Bentley and Lamborghini brands are very exclusive, with each being slightly different. How would you simply explain the difference between these vehicles to customers?
You are right, each brand is different. While cars of the traditional Bentley brand are used by clients on a daily basis, regardless of the weather or purpose of the drive, Lamborghini vehicles are a toy for good weather and carefree driving, for example, to go out for coffee or to have fun. A number of Lamborghini customers even winterise their beloved at the first autumn fog and rain. Of course, this does not apply to customers who have the top SUV Urus in their garage. With this car, a super sports drive can be enjoyed all year round. Naturaly, we have many clients who own cars of both brands. Many customers today even perceive these cars as an investment opportunity, especially in the case of limited editions.
You are also planning a special car showroom for Lamborghini and Bentley. Where can interested parties find this and what can they look forward to in this showroom?
We are preparing new premises not only for the Lamborghini and Bentley brands, but also for our other premium brand, Porsche. At the moment, I can only reveal that our showroom will not be far from Prague’s Smíchov, where clients have been visiting us for many years. It will undoubtedly be a venue where customers and fans of the aforementioned brands will come into their own, and where we will try to surpass their previous experience in the sales and service of these vehicles. Clients definitely have something to look forward to. We are preparing a car Showroom with a capital S for them.
What personally led you to becoming involved in vehicle sales?
I was in the right place at the right moment. I am from Domažlice, a small district town near the border with Germany. From a young age, like any car fan, I was fascinated by the first imported Volkswagen cars, such as the Polo, Golf and Passat, which were completely different from the traditional brands we had known on our roads until then. At the turn of 2000, when a new modern Volkswagen car showroom was opened in Domažlice, I thought that if I didn’t have a Golf at home myself, I would at least participate in making others enjoy one. I applied for the vacancy of a New Car Salesman and pursued it so long and so fiercely that they had no choice but to take me on. That’s where my more than 20-year extensive career in the automotive field began. Now I am fulfilling the dream of every lover and admirer of sports cars of the Bentley and Lamborghini brands.
When you are surrounded by so many quality cars, it’s clear that motoring is a very enjoyable hobby for you. What other hobbies do you find time for in your spare time?
Of course, I try to balance a heavy workload with free time and personal life. My family and I like to travel, and we like to spend our free time together in Nature. I really like to play sport and seek the company of friends with whom I feel good over a glass of good wine. At the moment, my greatest hobby is my one-year-old son. I may be in a bad mood or tired, but he always reliably lifts my mood and recharges my batteries.
The offers of car companies show that the vehicle market is recovering after the COVID pandemic period. Are more innovations in line? For example, what do you do to satisfy the interest of customers?
I am humbled to say that the luxury car segment has never declined or stagnated during the COVID pandemic. On the contrary, today we can say that this period started an unprecedented interest in this type of car. When mentioning innovations, car companies generally have the launch of a new model planned several years in advance. So, in the time of COVID-19 there could only be a short-term shift in the launch of new models, which was caused by the pandemic. This year, the Bentley brand introduced the new Azure and S equipment lines across all models, the new Bentayga EWB (Extended Wheel Base) model with an extended wheelbase, and we have had great success with the hybrid drive in the Flying Spur and Bentayga cars. Lamborghini launched derivatives of the bestseller Huracan, with the names Tecnica, STO and Sterrato. With the end of the sales of the Aventador model, a limited Ultimae model was launched, and the icing on the cake this year was the immediately sold-out Countach model, which was offered in countless units worldwide. Today we expect the first passenger cars of the modernised Urus model, which is our best-selling Lamborghini. As I mentioned before, the interest is huge, but the manufacturing capacity and supply of cars are limited. Therefore, anyone who wants to buy a Bentley or Lamborghini should not delay.
A car showroom is no longer just a shop. What specific services does the Autosalon Porsche Praha - Smíchov provide to its customers?
During my professional life, I had the opportunity to become acquainted with a wide range of enterprises in the style of “just a shop” for cars. Our company has been offering comprehensive services in the field of car sales and service since its inception. From the sale of the car to its financing and insurance, service and repairs, insurance events, to its trade-in for another car. All this with respect and an individual approach to all the client’s expectations and needs.
Czech customers like to indulge themselves and are happy to pay extra for equipment. You also offer them the interesting service of customising a mass-produced car. What does such a transformation of a car consist of and how can it be carried out in a car showroom?
Yes, that's right. When a customer decides on one of our luxury brands, he usually does not require the standard series equipment. Clients want to stand out, be unique and original, and often this includes individual wishes such as exterior colour, colour combinations and interior materials, or even embroidering names, signs or symbols on vehicle seats. We even let the customer have the family coat of arms embroidered. The Ad Personam at Lamborghini and Mulliner at Bentley programmes serve precisely to fulfil all the wishes of individualising cars for our clients. We are able to offer basic individualisation to the customer in our salons, and if the wishes are extremely unusual and demanding, configuration and visualisation take place in a virtual studio or even directly in the factory premises.
What trends do you see in the development of car sales in modern times? What do you think the style of car sales in showrooms will be like in the future?
We see a new generation of customers growing up. One who spends time on social networks, in the digital world, where they want to share, communicate, shop. For them, a classic visit to a showroom is already something they are not familiar with – and we need to adapt our sales techniques and channels accordingly. To be more active in non-traditional sales activities. Various virtual showrooms and pop-up stores are therefore planned. Abroad, where young people have a different purchasing power, this change is already underway. The impact of influencers and ambassadors of these brands is also great. So, if someone reads on social media how great a Bentley GT is, that’s often the impetus for him to start thinking about buying one too – and the dealer’s website is just a few clicks away. That’s incredible power. Then it is up to us. Nevertheless, we have confirmation from the manufacturers that brands such as Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche will continue to be sold traditionally with a visit to our, albeit modern, showrooms, with a demonstration drive and the creation of a personal relationship between the client and the salesman. These are the right emotions.
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