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Golf sales not VW’s priority

Plans: Despite spectacular sales figures for the Golf in October, Volkswagen Australia will prioritise dealer numbers and customer service over outright volume.

Volkswagen aims to improve the dealer experience rather than chase Golf sales

Volkswagen logo10 Nov 2011

VOLKSWAGEN insists that making the Golf a top three sales player in Australia is not its goal, but has instead prioritised dealer numbers and customer service, especially in rural areas.

Nevertheless, with a 17 per cent lift in sales in the first 10 months of 2011, Volkswagen in Australia is aiming to surpass 43,000 units by the end of this year.

Furthermore, similar growth is forecast for 2012 as supplies of recently launched models like the Jetta, Passat, Tiguan, Touareg and Amarok free up.

The popular Polo and Golf ranges will also become more readily available, and the Up sub-light car will arrive to give Volkswagen the cheapest entry level vehicle it has offered in Australia.

Volkswagen Australia managing director Anke Koeckler told GoAuto that the spike in Golf sales in October – when it was the third-highest-selling car in the country – is directly attributable to driveaway pricing across most of the small-car range, but that such actions would only be undertaken “once in a while” next year in order to sustain sales growth.

“For Volkswagen, it is not a question of keeping up the (sales) pressure but of delivering (what customers want),” she told us.

 center imageLeft: Volkswagen Australia managing director Anke Koeckler. Below: Up, Jetta and Golf Cabrio.

Ms Koeckler said that far more important to the company is increasing dealer numbers from 90 to 100 next year, with an emphasis on better rural area representation and servicing, including the ability to cope with the servicing needs of the growing number of used cars in the network.

“We are aiming to have 100 dealers by 2013, and we are working at getting more in the rural areas,” Ms Koeckler revealed.

“We need to see what we have to do in order for our rural dealers to become more relevant to Australians.

“We want to make sure also that our dealers are growing with us … so we are investing in capacity not only at the (forecourt) level but also at the back of house, in (dealership) workshops.

“It’s great that we can deliver on new cars, but we have to make sure that the (used) car we sell can go through our workshop and service.” She believes the 170 per cent increase in Golf sales in October over the same month last year was aided by freer supply of vehicles from Germany, a continuing strong currency against the Euro and some lingering supply issues for rival small cars, some as a result of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Ms Koeckler promises that driveaway pricing will not become standard practice at VGA.

Instead, she said VW will continue its strategy of launching every new model “with a low starting price” since it means mid-cycle “actions” like discounting are less necessary to help maintain sales levels, which in turn keep existing customers happy and help promote stronger residuals.

“We will not (promote driveaway pricing or heavy discounting) on a regular basis like some of our competitors are doing,” Ms Koeckler said, seemingly taking a pot-shot at the current marketing programs from rivals Mazda, Toyota and Hyundai.

Ms Koeckler believes that the Golf’s current sales status is not an overnight success, but a decade of hard work.

“It’s always good to have success as you can demonstrate that you can deliver on what you promise, and that helps with maintaining the trust and confidence in what we are doing in Australia.

“I would say that the first five years was the foundation period for Volkswagen Group Australia, when we started to form the company in Australia in 2001.

“Then in 2005, with the then-new Golf V, that was the first growth period, and we managed to significantly grow our market share and volume as well.

“Since the financial crisis of 2008 we have managed to define our next growth period, which we presented back then to the board, and that now we are delivering. And that’s a good feeling.”

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