Eleven o’clock in the evening. The day is almost over. Now just order the new car quickly. What would have been unthinkable a few years ago is becoming increasingly popular with customers in Sweden. Four out of ten private customers there opt for leasing offers – and a growing number are signing the contract online, outside normal business hours. It is quite possible that many of them will be sitting on the sofa – they have the option at least.“Three-quarters of all requests come from smartphones or tablets,” says Ruben Svartholm, the project manager in charge at Volkswagen Sweden. Interested parties can reach their goal in three simple steps: Select a car. Select a dealership. Confirm. That’s it.
Volkswagen launched the digital sales platform in Sweden as early as 2016, winning many motorists. Nine out of ten online customers are new to Volkswagen. Digital business is proving particularly successful during the corona pandemic. While the market as a whole is experiencing sharp declines, online contracts are almost at prior-year levels. “72 percent of online customers complete the contract without visiting the dealership,” says Svartholm. Many dealers deliver the new vehicle right to the customer’s doorstep on request.
The basis for success is familiarity with digital applications: 92 percent of all Swedes own a smartphone, and almost the entire population uses the Internet. Online ordering is however especially popular among young drivers. “The greatest interest comes from customers under 30,” says Svartholm.
Sweden is not an isolated case – the digital car business is also gaining importance in other European markets. Take the example of the Netherlands: just a few days ago, the importer, PON, launched an online direct sales platform for the private leasing of SEAT models. The pilot project was already planned before the corona outbreak – now it is hitting home. “In the first week of soft-launching this concept, we sold five cars,” reports Jan-Pieter van Hemert, Head of Digital Development at PON. “This is promising for the months ahead where we will push for more attention for this new concept.”