Customers in select regions can now schedule an in-person Alexa guided test drive of VW’s ID.4 SUV.  -  IMAGE: Volkswagen

Customers in select regions can now schedule an in-person Alexa guided test drive of VW’s ID.4 SUV.

IMAGE: Volkswagen

Volkswagen and Amazon have partnered to deliver an innovative take on the test drive. Starting this fall, customers in select regions can schedule an in-person Alexa guided test drive of VW’s ID.4 SUV.

The experience begins with a brief walk around with a Volkswagen Product Specialist, followed by a 30-minute-long test drive enabled through an Echo Auto device on the vehicle's dashboard. As customers drive the vehicle, they can ask Alexa for information on the electric vehicle’s many functions.

Alexa has information on the ID.4’s battery, charging, blind spot monitor, infotainment system, maintenance needs and more.

Through the Test Drive with Alexa program—created in collaboration with Amazon Ads and Amazon Web Services—a participant’s questions are answered in a fresh, fun manner as Volkswagen continues its goal of EV education and democratization. A question about its massaging seats, for instance, will prompt the following response: “The seat massage function is available in the front seats of the I.D.4 Pro S and Pro S with Gradient. If you'd like to try it, just ask, ‘Alexa, how do I turn on the massage feature.’”

“In our push to bring EVs and electromobility to all, we need to find new and exciting ways to talk to our customers,” said Andrew Savvas, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Volkswagen Group of America. “This collaboration with Amazon does just that. Future Volkswagen owners can experience all our ID.4 has to offer with the aid of a voice service they’ve already come to know.”  

After the real-world test drive, Alexa will direct customers interested in more details or purchases would to dealerships.

Dealers look forward to shoppers' response to the new test drives but some expressed concerns about the novel experience removing personalization in the car-buying process.

Rachel Pullen, president of the 16-store Browns Automotive Group in Virginia and Maryland, told Ward’s that they are excited about the new test-drive opportunity. "Customers trust Amazon as a brand and Alexa's technology. This allows consumers to ask questions and to apply that same trust to the answers,” Pullen said.

Tyler Corder, chief financial officer, the Nevada-based Findlay Auto Group, which has 37 dealerships in six states, told Wards he had mixed thoughts about the initiative.

"I can see that a certain portion of the population would like this. However, I fear the loss of a personal relationship with a salesperson would overall be a negative. Buying a car is more of an emotional decision than a rational decision.”

He stressed that the test drive is a major part of the emotional purchase decision.

VW and Amazon Ads have created a landing page where customers can sign up at www.amazon.com/id4testdrive for a test drive with Alexa.

Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today

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