The launch of Cupra will mark the first time the Volkswagen Group has gone down the agency sales model, and moved away from traditional customer-to-dealership relationships.

    The young Spanish brand will instead have purchases take place online, and have the delivery experience handled by brand representatives rather than dealerships.

    Volkswagen and Audi last year paved the way with the launch of their online sales portals, but Cupra will take things a step further.

    Speaking to CarExpert ahead of the brand launch, Cupra Australia brand director, Ben Wilks, said the young marque offers the Volkswagen Group a great opportunity to try something new.

    “There is a great chance here. Too many times we have seen lots of new brands come to Australia and they try and setup in a way that can be too cumbersome,” Mr Wilks said.

    “I think what we need to do to bring this brand to Australia is to be nimble in the way we are setting up, to be able to reach our customers really quickly, and also to be able to change and pivot and as our customer needs change.”

    According to Mr Wilks, who was previously the general manager of sales for Volkswagen passenger vehicles, the way the internet has changed car buying in the last decade is not reflected well enough in the traditional sales model.

    “We know how much our customers want to interact with us online, the process of researching vehicle is so much online,” he said.

    “What we are trying to do is bring more of the transaction process into a digital transaction, remove some of the pain points around the paperwork involved. Make the process a bit more seamless.”

    CarExpert believes Cupra will offer its three launch models at the same price nationally with no haggling room, a policy both Honda and Mercedes-Benz will adopt before Cupra’s launch.

    “The agency model gets cars in front of customers at various locations. Agent store, customer’s house, office – all of these things are possible,” Mr Wilks said.

    “That’s how we see the model working. There are advantages for the customer as well, such as a larger stock pool to pick from without having to go into discussion with every dealer. The agent is working on behalf of the customer and you don’t need multiple people to contact you. It brings some clarity into the price.”

    Despite a heavier reliance on online sales, Cupra is aware nothing will replace the need to touch, eyeball, and drive the vehicles prior to purchase, but says nixing the haggling process will remove some of the anxiety buyers face.

    “What the customers want… from pricing at an online purchasing opportunity is to see that the value is there,” Mr Wilks said.

    “I think what our customers would like to do is identify that they can get the value from the vehicle they are purchasing without going into negotiation. We think they are informed enough and intelligent enough to understand that value.”

    Cupra will launch nationally with three models between April and June, 2022.

    Alborz Fallah

    Alborz is the founder of CarAdvice (sold to Nine and now Drive) and co-founder of CarExpert. He is an honourary adjunct professor & entrepreneur in residence at the University of QLD. He loves naturally-aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s and is in denial about the impending death of the internal combustion engine. The best way to reach him is via Instagram.

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