What makes the New Volkswagen so accessible and digitally sound?
The distance between halls 9 and 15 at the Auto Expo 2020 was more than half a kilometre. The former was where the evo India stall was located while the latter housed the pavilions of many car manufacturers. According to my smartwatch, I walked around 7-8km at the Auto Expo every day I was there, burning no less than 500 calories, often by running between halls to reach the tightly scheduled press conferences on time. It was exhausting, except for one particular evening which felt rather relaxing. As I leisurely strolled into hall 15 after a long day, I came across the Volkswagen pavilion — it was colourful and vibrant, massive screens played brand commercials, new Volkswagen cars stood elegantly and the seating arrangement with soft and cushy sofas appeared extremely inviting, as if they were waiting for me. I jumped on those without a second thought. Making myself comfortable, I noticed the redesigned VW roundel for the first time.
It appeared far different from the logo that we were used to seeing, with a completely flat design replacing the 3D logo from the past. The simplified logo represents one of the largest rebranding exercises in the world and is representative of ‘New Volkswagen’, a brand that’s far more personalised, more data driven and more connected than before. Introduced first in 1937, the iconic VW logo has evolved nine times, with every iteration representing the trends of the era it belonged to. The most recent evolution occurred in 2019 when Volkswagen transitioned from the old three dimensional logo’s skeuomorphic form and reduced the logo to its essential elements. There are a number of reasons why this reimagined logo was given the green signal; a flatter two-dimensional design appears far better on our smartwatch and smartphone screens and is much easier to draw from memory if one was ever asked to do so. ‘Digital first’ and ‘No filter’ are the two mottos of the new logo, with the latter reflecting Volkswagen’s flexibility and transparency with which it communicates with its clientele. The logo’s blue and white colours have also been refreshed with a new deep blue tone, allowing for additional colour variants — the upcoming GTI models in the international markets will wear a red VW badge, connoting performance and sporty design. Indeed, the very first step of rebranding has been a clever move as the new logo now creates an equal impact on viewers, irrespective of where it gets displayed — on hoardings, cars or on different sizes of screens. The logo also represents the digitalised buying and ownership experience.
Right from when you Google your favourite Volkswagen to the end of the vehicle’s ownership cycle, everything can now be done digitally, with minimal contact. In the wake of the first lockdown, Volkswagen India digitally integrated all its 137 sales and 116 service touch points. What this means is Volkswagen cars can be bought through a completely contactless online buying process, ensuring that the most important factor, one that pertains to safety, has been taken care of in these worrying times. And there’s nothing complicated about it. All you need to do is browse through the Volkswagen range on the official website, choose your preferred car and its variant, and proceed with the booking. If you prefer the old-school method of visiting the dealership and absorbing the ambience around the car, then you can even opt for a pick-up and drop service through the dealership.
Let’s assume that your city still has restrictions in place, or you’re waiting for your shots of the Covid-19 vaccine, but can’t wait to get more details about the car. In such cases, you can interact with VW’s frontline personnel, the sales and service executives. They have now undergone comprehensive training to become more tech savvy and customer oriented — all thanks to the new Sarvottam 2.0 initiative that focuses on making the brand more accessible. The personnel are well-versed with digital platforms and have been trained to cater to your individual requirements. This initiative pushes the boundaries of accessibility even further with the help of technology. You can reach out to Volkswagen through a verified WhatsApp contact number, the same way you reach out to your friends and family. The Volkswagen WhatsApp chatbot features AI (artificial intelligence) based NLP (Natural Language Processing) where users can simply type in their queries and the bot will answer them. For instance, try asking the bot what the price of the new Polo is, and it will reply with a detailed ex-showroom price list. Ask for a service and the bot will book a service appointment for you at the nearest workshop.
That said, in a cost sensitive Indian market, Volkswagen is now backed up by a solid after sales service network. The brand has taken great strides forward in terms of TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). The Polo and Vento are between 23 and 25 per cent more affordable from a periodic maintenance cost perspective while the cost of Volkswagen Genuine parts has also plummeted by 11 per cent.
Volkswagen’s digital transformation has been completed before the first fruits of the India 2.0 Project come to life. While the new logo debuted on the all-electric ID.3 globally, in India it will debut on our very own Taigun mid-size SUV. And we cannot wait to get behind its wheel for it promises some proper German DNA when it comes to performance, ride and handling — things we love Volkswagen cars for. That’s not all, the 5-seater Tiguan with fresh styling, more equipment and a powerful 2-litre TSI engine is also on its way. The next generation Vento is in the works as well and is expected to arrive with a massive step-up in all areas. Enthusiasts have always had emotional ties with Volkswagen cars and now, with the brand having undergone a thorough transformation within, this relationship is only going to get stronger.