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VW to maintain focus on tech

By Li Fusheng ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-04-27 07:58:23

Volkswagen will continue its focus on technology, said a senior executive at the German automaker.

"We will remain a technology-oriented company. That is our DNA," said Weiming Soh, member of the board of management and executive vice-president, Greater China, Volkswagen, during the Shanghai auto show.

New-energy vehicles will be one of the German automaker's priorities in product development, and 15 such models will be localized in China in the next four years, said Soh, who also serves as executive vice-president of Volkswagen China.

"We will provide both plug-in hybrids and fully electric models, and we have made huge investments in those products."

As many carmakers are working with e-commerce platforms to sell their products, Volkswagen is planning even closer cooperation with Internet companies.

"What is important is how the market will be five years later. Our discussions with Harvard and some experts offer us a deeper understanding." He said that will trigger dramatic change in a lot of ways including sales and services, rather than screening online information for potential consumers, which is "too outdated".

Soh said Volkswagen has made many attempts in this respect and Volkswagen Import is planning to work with an Internet company to sell two models that will only be available online.

"It is a 100 percent online sale. We want to make sure that our online sales are not just transferring brick-and-mortar stores to the Internet."

Moreover, going online will also include offering a quick response to customers' questions on social media, an aspect he said Volkswagen will further improve.

"Communication with consumers on social media has not proven effective, as we did not built a system to offer the fastest and most timely answers."

He said the concept of customer satisfaction starts with after-sales service, which is the last step of sales, and that makes it difficult to respond quickly to customer demand.

"Therefore, we have set up a special channel for recalls so that customers will have a direct and more efficient way to communicate with us."

A dedicated team will audit the speed and quality of response, and visit authorized dealerships to inspect cases that have been handled. They will also collect and analyze customer feedback and facilitate effective solutions to customers' concerns and difficulties.

Soh added that more reforms are in the pipeline at Volkswagen. "We have seen smooth development in the past few years, but the question is whether our current system can keep pace with social development.

He said the reforms will involve not only revamping the automaker's structure but other aspects, the details of which remain under discussion.

"Sales growth is not the most important thing for us. The crucial issue is whether our system, procedure and cost control mechanism will meet market demand. That is why we need to enhance our reforms."

lifusheng@chinadaily.com.cn

 VW to maintain focus on tech

Weiming Soh, member of the board of management and executive vice-president, Greater China, Volkswagen

(China Daily 04/27/2015 page18)

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