Messing around with car configurators is one of the great pastimes of the automotive enthusiast. Sitting around on your computer or your phone and daydreaming about your perfect car is satisfying stuff, and there is arguably than Porsche’s.
The reason why Porsche’s configurator is so good comes down to its granularity. The extremely ala carte nature of Porsche’s options lists for all of its many, many models and trims allows you, the buyer (or daydreamer, as it were), to build precisely the car you want. Of course, that level of specificity can be a little intimidating, which is why Porsche announced its plans on Wednesday to add AI to its online configurator.
Artificial intelligence for a car configurator? Doesn’t that seem like a little overkill? Well, yes and no. The potential combinations of models, trims and options are almost limitless, so Porsche’s AI — aka its “Recommendation Engine” — will use machine learning to help suggest the options and packages that will best suit you.
Porsche went about building the Recommendation Engine by training 270 separate machine-learning models based on different markets and other unique criteria. This allows the AI to tailor its recommendations with a high degree of specificity and a greater chance for accuracy. How accurate is it? Porsche is claiming 90%. That seems high, but regardless of that, it’s only going to get more accurate as more people use it. That’s the benefit of machine learning.
The Recommendation Engine is currently available in six countries, including the US, China, Germany, the UK, Switzerland and Taiwan. There are plans to expand the system further, but because that will require training for new neural networks, it will happen gradually. If you want to give the Recommendation Engine a whirl and you’re in one of the countries listed above, go to the Porsche configurator and click the lightbulb icon at the bottom of the page.
I tried it on a 911 Carrera S and found it got around 60% of the suggestions right — though, to be honest, my tastes might not jive with the average Porsche shopper. Give it a whirl and let us know how it did with you.