New Beetles appear to be popular on the Internet, and Volkswagen of America plans more online sales experiments. On May 4, the German automaker introduced two new colors - reflex yellow and vapor blue - that could be ordered on the Internet. Volskwagen built 2,000 New Beetles of each color, then advertised the pilot program in print and on TV. So far, VW has sold 2,500 limited-edition New Beetles.
'Overall, we're very pleased,' said Liz Vanzura, marketing an dadvetising director at Volkswagen of America. 'We learned a lot. Our dealers liked it, and we intend to push foward on other pilots to be a leader in this area. I would expect that we're going to be doing a couple of different ones over the next couple of months.'
When the pilot concluded June 17, the remaining 1,500 limited-edition New Beetles were released to be sold in dealerships in the tradional manner. Few are left, Vanzura said. Customers chose their limited-edition New Beetle online and bargained with a dealer at one of two Web addresses - vw.com/reflex or vw.com/vapor. Customers were able to select a black or gray leather interior, a 2.0-liter or turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, and an automatic or five-speed manual transmission.
They were able to name a dealer or allow Volkswagen to recommend a dealer. The customers negotiated with the selected dealer on the Web site. Once they agreed on a price, the dealer ordered the desired vehicle from a holding port.
In a survey of Volkswagen's 608 U.S. dealers, 90 percent said they would participate if Volkswagen conducted another online experiment Vanzura said.