Discover what Filip Vanrietvelde, Marketing & Communication Manager Volkswagen, has to say about being Best Automotive Brand and the rise of autonomous and high tech cars.
How will you maintain this top position in the coming years?
Filip Vanrietvelde: By switching to electric models, we provide an answer to the expectations of the consumer. On the one hand, we have extended our range of plug-in hybrids so that we can now offer not only Golf and Passat hybrids, but also the Tiguan, Arteon, Arteon shooting brake and the luxury Touareg hybrids.
On the other hand, we launched a new model in mid-2020, the ID.3, a 100% electric car with a range up to 540 km. In March 2021, we extended the ID range with the ID.4, the first 100% electric SUV from Volkswagen. Later this year we are planning to add a third model, but I can’t tell you anything about that yet… These ID models are being produced in a completely CO2-neutral way. E-mobility has become our main focus and in the future Volkswagen wants to make these cars even more accessible to the larger public.
Have the expectations of the consumer changed in the past year and, if so, how have you adapted to these changes?
Filip: The customer journey is now much more digitised. We have noticed that buyers enter a Volkswagen Showroom much better informed compared to a few years ago.
We have adapted to this new behaviour by making short videos of our new models in which we give some more info about the specific model. In this way, you can prepare yourself even better as a customer, certainly in times like these when fun-shopping is no longer possible.
By the way, we made these videos here in Belgium with local actors, resulting in more recognition and a more familiar feel for our public.
You have the highest Share of Soul score. How do you stay emotionally connected with your customers?
Filip: Volkswagen has a very long and rich history of course, I admit, it’s a huge challenge to maintain emotional connection with our customers, certainly now that events such as the 25U VW Fun Cup, the ‘Autosalon’ or live product launches are no longer permitted.
We try to keep up to date with our digital tools and social media such as Facebook and Instagram. We used them to launch a campaign at the beginning of COVID-19, #stayparked, in which we asked everyone not to drive, but to leave their cars ‘parked’. Not the first thing you would expect from a car manufacturer…
Other than that, there is also a Belgian Volkswagen Cub where passionate fans can keep up to date with the latest news and happenings within the Volkswagen world, for example fans of old-timers, camping cars etc.
“The good news is that Volkswagen is investing in autonomous technology and wants to implement it in its cars by 2025.”
In the Best Brands study, we can see you have established strong connections with your customers. What is your secret?
Filip: We’re in touch with our customers not only during the buying process, but also outside it. We launched the Rescue Drivers project in 2019 in which everyone could follow a free first-aid course, organised by the Red Cross. Our customers appreciate our unforced way of handling matters and are proud to be part of the big Volkswagen community.
How do you address the younger generation?
Filip: Now that all events are cancelled, we focus on the media that young people are consuming or interacting with. Today, that is most often Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
How do you handle the ecological questions of today in the automobile sector?
Filip: I’m glad you asked me that question because Volkswagen has recently launched its ecological programme with 3 basic pillars: as I said before, we have extended our range of hybrids. The second pillar concerns the launch of our electric ID range with the ID.3 and the ID.4, our 100% electric SUV. The third pillar concerns a factory in Zwickau where the ID models are being built. That is the first, biggest and, most importantly, the most ecological electric factory in Europe.
The factory has a target to be completely CO2-neutral and in this way it fits in seamlessly with the plan Volkswagen has with regard to an ecological environment.
With the rise of autonomous and high tech cars, what future innovations do you have in mind to modernise your cars?
Filip: I have two teenagers who are already dreaming about autonomous cars. The good news is that Volkswagen is investing in this technology and wants to implement it in its cars by 2025.
We will then be able to move ourselves very comfortably and in total safety.
If cars can communicate with each other, the risk of accidents will decrease dramatically.