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Exclusive: Internal system ‘likely cause’ as VW Group delays agency sales until at least 2024

  • VW Group brands – including VW and Audi – were due to switch to agency sales for EVs this summer
  • Direct-to-consumer approach for sales has been delayed until 2024 after system trouble
  • Dealers say delay could be down to disappointing take up of agency sales for Cupra Born

Time 5:06 pm, March 2, 2023

Volkswagen Group has delayed the roll out of agency sales for their dealer networks from this summer until ‘at least’ 2024.

Dealers were told this week that the manufacturer group had decided to push back the launch – originally scheduled for June and July this year – to ‘some time in 2024’.

VW Group is aiming to transition to agency sales for its electric vehicle across its brands including VW, Audi, Skoda, Seat and Cupra. 

However, sources told Car Dealer that this might not happen until the first half of 2024, with a best case scenario of the first quarter of next year, after delays with internal systems at VW Group set back the project.

Dealers attended a manufacturer summit on Monday where they were given more information about the agency model and how they’d be remunerated.

Some of those present at the event told Car Dealer the rumour there was the delay was actually down to the disappointing sales for the Cupra Born, the electric car which has been sold via agency since the start of 2023.

‘It hasn’t worked as well as they hoped for the Cupra Born so of course they’re going to delay it until they can get it right – the longer the better in my view,’ one franchisee told Car Dealer.

The Cupra Born sales has been a trial project for the VW Group for agency and dealers have said it hasn’t gone as well as top brass had hoped with disappointing take up.

However, the delayed introduction of full agency sales for VW Group EVs is believed to be more down to internal systems that simply aren’t ready to deal with the roll out yet.

The VW Group is believed to be changing its new car ordering system at the same time and the huge project has been hit with delays as the team working on it perfect the new platform. 

‘There have also been eyes looking across at Mercedes’ roll out of agency which hasn’t exactly gone smoothly and people have thought what’s the point of rushing it and getting it wrong when we have the time to get it right,’ said a source.

Mercedes went live with agency sales via its website on January 1 with fixed pricing which it says ‘eliminates the need to shop around’.

Customers are given one price for the cars on the Mercedes website, place their order and have it delivered via a dealer.

Retailers are believed to be paid a five per cent handling fee on each deal they do, plus finance commission. But Mercedes’ market share fell drastically in January, down to 3.8 per cent compared to five per cent in December.

A spokesperson for the VW Group confirmed the delay to its agency roll out and, in a statement, said: ‘Volkswagen Group UK continues to engage with its retailer networks as we optimise the roll-out of retail agency for the sale of electric cars across the group and progress the transformation of our customer experience.’

A growing number of car manufacturers are planning agency sales models of their own. Stellantis has said it will move to an agency sales model in 2024 (but have also delayed it) and Ford is planning a similar move soon. But others, including Mazda, Suzuki and Renault, have all ruled it out for now.

Agency sales will be a hot topic at next week’s Car Dealer Live conference where manufacturers and car dealers will discuss the impact the move will have on their businesses in the years to come. For tickets visit CarDealerLive.co.uk.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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