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Volkswagen UK boss admits brand is watching how car sales agency model trial in Germany is developing

4 months ago

Volkswagen UK managing director Andrew Savvas admits he is carefully ‘watching’ how the agency model pans out for sales of the ID.3 in Germany.

In an interview with What Car?, Savvas says he thinks the concept has ‘a lot of benefits’ but that the brand is still learning how it can work.

In Germany, all dealers have signed up to the pilot scheme that sees the manufacturer handle direct sales to customers of the electric ID models with dealers paid a handling fee.

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Savvas said: ‘We are utilising that model as a pilot in Germany with the ID.3 and I am watching that carefully because I do think there are lots of benefits to an agency model.

‘Some investors are excited, but I use the word watching carefully, as we still need to learn.’

Volkswagen said the model allows customers to ‘seamlessly switch’ between online and offline channels and that it had ‘proven its worth’.

Volkswagen UK boss Andrew Savvas

In the interview, Savvas also admits that his brand’s dealers are ‘demanding’, but that he wants them to ‘push’ the manufacturer.

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He explains that his role is to ‘uncomplicate’ VW for its customers and simplify the way it does business with its dealer network.

Savvas said: ‘Wherever you work, car dealers are demanding. But why shouldn’t they be? 

‘OEM employees tend to take getting paid every month for granted, without it being necessarily linked to the success of the dealership. 

‘We have to think about the fact that the people closest to our customers are the ones whose pay will fluctuate depending on the fortunes of the brand.

‘Dealers should be demanding and push us.’

Savvas says that he holds monthly webinars with his dealer network where they can ‘ask him anything’, but says they might not always like the answer.

He added: ‘Sometimes I might not like what they ask, but I always listen and try to take it in and learn. 

‘It’s not easy, but it is simpler than trying to read between the lines all the time.’

Savvas believes that car dealerships are ‘important’ to car buyers, but thinks how they look and what they do will change.

He said: ‘I think there will be a slow consolidation over the next few years. However, investment in premises – and especially their charging infrastructure – will continue, because this is an area that is so important to the car ownership experience.

‘Having a showroom with state-of-the-art technology, with the ability for customers to interact and see all that tech, will still be important. 

‘People will still want to touch, and feel, to understand the experience. So the investment in making showrooms as immersive as possible is really important.’

You can read the full What Car? interview here.

James Baggott

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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