VW, building a Taj Mashowroom, talks up online sales

Diana Kuylko covers various import brands headquartered in the New York area for Automotive News.
The Internet is your showroom, Volkswagen's chief told dealers in a keynote speech at the convention.

Stefan Jacoby, CEO of the Volkswagen's U.S. group, said up to 92 percent of all VW buyers do their shopping online. They go to a dealership to buy, and the road test is just a "confirmation drive that they made the right decision," Jacoby said.

Buyers also know how low the dealer will go to make the sale, he said.

Jacoby urged dealers to get on the ball and respond to Internet leads with a "sense of urgency as if the customer was face to face in your showroom."

So if the Internet is so important to VW, why have its dealers -- with his urging -- spent millions of dollars revamping their showrooms? And why is VW building a Taj Mahal showroom in Manhattan to the tune of $125 million for VW and its sister brand Audi?

Jacoby didn't stick around after his speech to answer questions from dealers or press.