Like virtually every sort of company these days, automakers are seeking more ways to make effective use of the Internet, as well as moving heavily into social media. Many have used the Internet as a tool to drum up interest in a new model, and to provide a procedure for reserving a place on the waiting list for a vehicle that’s expected to be especially popular.
As reported by Auto Remarketing magazine, Volkswagen is apparently the first to use the Amazon.com buying experience as a pathway to selling a specific new model, before it’s ready to reach dealerships. It’s a bit like pre-ordering a coming-soon book or DVD at Amazon, then waiting until it’s released before expecting to receive a copy in the mail.
Specifically, Volkswagen of America is introducing a Special Edition of the freshly-redesigned 2012 Beetle, and allowing customers to pre-order online. In what’s called an “industry first,” the reservation process was developed using Amazon.com’s E-Commerce platform.
Prospective buyers can go to www.vw.com/preorder to use the pre-ordering program. Under the “early bird” Vehicle Pre-Order program, a customer can punch in his or her ZIP code, then read the program’s terms, and select a dealer for retail delivery of the vehicle. After those steps are completed, if they decide they really do want the desired Volkswagen, they can enter billing information.
Making a “reservation” to buy the Special Edition 2012 Beetle isn’t free. A $495 reservation fee has to be paid under the program. That sum may later be applied to the actual purchase price of the Special Edition Beetle, but Volkswagen promises a “No Hassle” refund policy. A total of 600 Black Turbo Launch Edition models will be offered at $24,950, and available only through pre-ordering.
Marketers hope the new tool “may help the company better gauge demand and production,” according to the company. The Black Turbo Launch Edition, with a 200-horsepower, 2.0L TSI engine and DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, will be the first Volkswagen offered under the program, but more are planned. If all goes well, online customers will be able to claim various limited-availability Volkswagen models.
“With the introduction of Volkswagen’s Vehicle Pre-Order program,” said Volkswagen Group of American president/CEO Jonathan Browning, “we are able to offer enthusiastic drivers an exclusive opportunity to connect with our vehicles.” By using “this seamless ordering system, customers will be one step closer towards owning and enjoying a special launch edition of the 2012 Beetle.”