RealTime IT News

Volkswagen to Sell Limited Edition Cars Over Web

Volkswagen of America Inc. Monday set its sights on the Internet with a new marketing program that will allow online shoppers to get exclusive dibs on 4,000 new, limited edition Beetles.

The limited editions will be offered in two colors -- a mystic light blue called Vapor Blue, and a sporty cutting-edge yellow called Reflex Yellow. Volkswagen (VLKAY) will produce 2,000 Beetles of each color. And in an attempt to join in the trading card craze, the carmaker will begin issuing packets of trading cards with the purchase of each car.

All models come in the New Beetle's equipped GLS trim level, which includes power one-touch up and down windows, cruise control, ABS brakes, CFC-free air conditioning, a six-speaker stereo, anti-theft alarm, remote central locking, fog lamps, a center armrest, and much more. All 4,000 limited edition cars will be optionally equipped with a choice of gray or black leather seating, a power glass sunroof, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

The suggested retail price for the Vapor Blue Limited Edition Color New Beetle GLS is $18,875 and $21,025 with the 1.8T engine option. All Reflex Yellows start at $21,025 with the 1.8 T.

This will be Volkswagen's first foray into the world of e-commerce. The online program will allow customers to learn about the special color edition New Beetles, configure a car, check its availability within Volkswagen's distribution system, pick a dealer, consider financing, discuss purchasing terms and arrange a delivery date.

"We know that nearly 60 percent of Volkswagen's customers use the internet to gather information and purchase products and services," said Liz Vanzura, Volkswagen's marketing director. "Volkswagen plans to be a leader and an innovator in this area. This is the first step in that direction."

Vanzura said Volkswagen's online program stands out from that of other carmakers because it includes dealers. She said Volkswagen developed the pilot model with dealers' input. She added that it is easier to use and is completely Volkswagen branded.

When customers log on to the vw.com Website, they can learn about the car, order a brochure if desired, and then find a local or preferred dealer. The customer configures a car with the desired options and searches for that vehicle in the Volkswagen system. Once a car is selected for purchase, the customer is automatically plugged into his or her own personal Web page, called "MyVW."

The customer can then discuss purchase terms with a dealer using an electronic message board or a telephone. Financing is also available online. Once final terms are agreed upon, the customer awaits confirmation and then coordinates the delivery of the vehicle with the dealer.

The company plans to announce its online buying program for the Limited Color Edition New Beetles on Monday with an advertising campaign that will include national broadcast and print media. The program will launch shortly afterwards.

Both the print and broadcast spots concentrate on the color of the new cars and the unique and exclusive way they can be purchased.

As for the trading cards, Volkswagen will print only a limited number. The cards will feature photography of the Vapor Blue and Reflex Yellow New Beetles with New Beetle facts and features on the back. They come in a sealed packet of 10 cards.

"We believe the trading card concept is unique, hot, and something we can continue to expand in the future," Vanzura said. "You will see Volkswagen trading cards that will depict scenes from our most famous advertisements and other car models past and present. We are even looking at putting bubble gum in the packets -- a tradition that is sadly missing in today's cards."

Volkswagen will issue the cards to the people who purchase the cars and a few early prospects on vw.com.

Limited edition buyers a