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460 online sales for Volkswagen during COVID-19 as brand launches AR experience in Australia


Volkswagen is putting augmented reality at the forefront of a new online shopping experience designed to make buying a new VW an easier process in Australia, despite the friction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many may baulk at the idea of buying big ticket items such as a car or even a home online, retail experts say the pandemic has sped up an already growing trend of buying expensive goods online. Various manufacturers have experimented with online car sales in Australia in the recent past, with Toyota notably clearing their entire initial allocations of both the GR Supra coupe and GR Yaris hot hatch by web.

Volkswagen's augmented reality car
Volkswagens is offering customers the chance to view cars in augmented reality after it found 460 people purchased a car online during the pandemic

Volkswagen report that they have sold 460 cars online in Australia since April 2020 – transactions worth $36 million to the company. COVID-19 has seen the proportion of the brand’s sales completed online  climb from 9 per cent to 15 per cent, and this figure is expected to rise further to as much as 25 per cent by 2025.

Volkswagen public relations and brand experience manager Kurt McGuiness told Chasing Cars that buying a car online is, in many ways, far simpler than doing so in person. With online configurators allowing people to build the specific car they want, buyers can also specify the way they’d like to finance the car before having it delivered to their door.

Volkswagen's smallest dealership AR
To make the experience a bit more fun Volkswagen has set up miniature dealerships in key foot traffic areas where people can then scan a QR code and see its cars through AR

Mr McGuiness said those who are concerned about buying a car sight unseen should consider that they are entitled to return the car if anything goes wrong within the first few months due to a ruling by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“For consumers, it is really quite a safe decision to make. There are no surprises, so people can focus on getting the right vehicle for your needs rather than worrying about all the nasty surprises that might be lurking – because there are none,” he said.

Volkswagen's augmented reality app
Using Volkswagen’s AR app customers can see the interior and exterior of the cars they may wish to buy without ever visiting a dealership

To add a bit of fun to this new way of buying, Volkswagen are running a new campaign labelled ‘Smallest Dealership’. Displays are found in Sydney and Melbourne, where people can scan a QR code to download an app and see how augmented reality (AR) works when buying a car.

Through the app users can see how the car they want to buy looks in their own driveway and take a virtual tour of the car inside and out.

It’s no gimmick either, with Volkswagen claiming 63 per cent of customers are asking for more AR integration for online shopping to get a better ‘feel’ for the product before they make their purchase.

Volkswagen's augmented reality interior
Volkswagen claims an increasing amount of buyers want more more AR to help them better understand the car they are purchasing

Mr McGuiness said buyers who are not completely convinced to buy a Volkswagen may not be as easily swayed as if they were in an in person dealership, but said their reputation as a reliable brand will help customers be confident in what they are buying.

“People know what to expect from us,” he said, pointing to the Volkswagen California campervan that sold out online within just hours of being put on sale.

“These are cars that are six figures plus, and nobody’s driven one yet. So there is a lot of faith in what people are getting but there is also that sort of desirability of being the first,” he said,

Those who want to check out the miniature dealership display can find them at Disney+’s Drive-In cinema experience roadshow, which will be in Sydney until November 15, with the next screen in Melbourne set to follow. Other locations are set to be announced depending on coronavirus restrictions.