"Too Bad About That Old Diesel, Can I Interest You in Something New?"
Will Volkswagen TDI owners who opt for a buyback be soured on the brand, or can they be lured into a new model?
It’s a big question for dealers, who could stand to benefit from the dealership traffic they’ll see when Volkswagen’s buyback program gets up and running later this year.
The fate of hundreds of thousands of 2.0-liter turbodiesel models sold in the U.S. rests on the finalized details of the automaker’s April 21 settlement deal. Those details become public this summer, after which the company can start to buy back or fix (at the owner’s request) the vehicles caught up in the diesel emissions scandal.
The program will have to be run through the national dealer network, and though some former owners will leave determined to give another brand a try, some might linger in the showroom with company money in hand.
Desirable products are needed to keep them there, and an incentive or two would definitely sweeten the pot.
“Every single transaction and interaction with the customer we view as an opportunity to save a VW customer from defecting away from our brand,” Mike Morais, president of the 18-franchise Open Road Auto Group, told Automotive News.
Before that can happen, the dealers and the automaker have to craft a speedy and seamless process of buying back the cars that doesn’t leave owners pulling out their hair. Once that is put in place, the sales pitches can begin.
Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess promised to boost volume and deliveries of new and appealing products (like the Tiguan and 2017 Golf Alltrack) to U.S. dealers at the National Auto Dealers Association convention earlier this month.
The recent creation of a North American Region (NAR) for the company came with the promise of faster product procurement to satisfy regional demand. If the NAR works like it should, this would aid the dealer network’s goal of hanging onto customers. Waiting for a new vehicle would cause some buyers to think twice about sticking around.
Volkswagen eventually plans to offer a broad range of SUVs designed to tempt American buyers and get cash rolling into its severely depleted coffers, but that strategy won’t be fleshed out for a few years. In the mean time, dealers need to sell, sell, sell what they can get their hands on.
[Image: Volkswagen of America]
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