Volkswagen Australia has sold more than 400 cars online since the start of 2020, as Coronavirus forces carmakers to find new ways to connect with buyers.

    The 433 online sales represent a tiny slice (1.65 per cent) of the 26,090 cars Volkswagen has sold so far in 2020. Of the 433 buyers, 349 purchased a pre-paid service package.

    Although 1.65 per cent is a small slice of a very big pie, Volkswagen says its online sales portal has helped triple the number of people reaching out to a dealer for more information or to request a test drive than in 2019.

    “The way we look at it, it’s just adding another major tool to the toolbox,” Michael Bartsch, Volkswagen Australia managing director, told CarExpert earlier this year.

    “It won’t change the business model fundamentally, but there are two or three generations coming through now where online, digital shopping is as natural as what used to be for old people like me going down to the corner shop to buy a Paddlepop.

    “It’s just part of the business landscape. In the information age that we have, the process in which you make the buying decision – what you put on your consideration set – is far easier to do that online.”

    Volkswagen isn’t alone in using the Coronavirus pandemic to ramp up its online sales operations.

    Audi Australia now allows new cars buyers to select, order, and take delivery of a new car without ever setting foot in a dealership, while Mini has dipped its toe into the online sales world.

    Kia Australia has a new online sales portal, Subaru is delivering cars direct to customers in lockdown, and BMW has opened up limited online ordering.

    “I’m a great believer in that wonderful setup between motor vehicle manufacturers and their franchise dealers, but necessity is the mother of invention, and what’s happened in the world over the last six months…” Kia Australia chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, told CarExpert.

    “You’ve got to be up to date with technology and what people require, what makes people feel comfortable with your brand.

    “If people want to buy over the net, we can satisfy that. I think that’s great.”

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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