Traverse City Conference: VW to lean more on sales, marketing in product development

August 2, 2018 06:01 CET

TRAVERSE CITY — Volkswagen Group will not rely solely on its engineers and designers to create future vehicles.

As the automaker moves deeper into mobility services, its sales and marketing divisions also will influence product development, Matthias Erb, head of the company’s holistic user experience, said Wednesday at the Car Management Briefing Seminars here.

“If you look today at what we are doing, we are very much car-focused. Everything we are offering is something around the car. We are offering services such as media, security and navigation,” he said.

The automaker’s products already are beginning to change.

“Customers don’t want to buy a product — they want to buy an experience,” Erb said. “If you want to buy an experience, you are asking for something different. You are not asking for physical things, necessarily.”

For electric cars, a customer will be able to access an app that locates a charging station while the navigation system computes the route to it and even enables the customer to pay for the recharge from the vehicle.

Car-sharing and ride-hailing are two more areas in which VW plans to broaden the customer experience by adding features that enable customers to do both.

“The development of cars will no longer only be driven by technology,” Erb said. “The user experience becomes the second most important driver for product development.”

He said VW Group vehicles will match the technology with the user experience, but keep the focus on simplicity.

“Cars are getting more complicated, and this is something we cannot offer to anybody anymore,” Erb said. “We have to offer something easy to understand and use and easy to be integrate into the world of the customer.”

You can reach Richard Truett at rtruett@crain.com.

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