The automaker will lease its ID-branded EVs direct to consumers.
Volkswagen released the ID.4 in the US last year, but the automaker's ID-branded EV lineup is much more extensive in other global markets. In Volkswagen's home country Germany, for example, it sells the ID.3 hatchback and ID.5 SUV in addition to the ID.4.
To make leasing one as easy as possible, VW just announced an online leasing program in the country. Volkswagen will offer the ID.4 and ID.5 to start, with the ID.3 coming later. The automaker did not mention the ID. Buzz, a striking electric van scheduled for later this year (but that won't arrive on US roads until 2024).
Though VW will expand the program to other countries in the future, it's limited to customers in Germany for now. The automaker's plans include expanding sales and other financing options online. It's unclear if the program will make its way to the United States, where dealer franchise laws complicate direct-to-consumer auto sales. Some states allow automakers like Tesla to sell directly to buyers, but there are some states where the company cannot sell its cars.
VW wants to continue offering a point of contact for advice, test drives, and service even while leasing vehicles online. If you're playing along at home, those things sound a lot like reasons to keep dealers around, which is precisely what VW's doing. Company board member Klaus Zellmer, the person slated to take over Skoda as CEO later this year, said that "online sales will not replace the brick-and-mortar dealership. We need a good online presence coupled with a strong and powerful local presence provided by our dealers." He continued to say that "dealers are and will remain the face to our customers. They are indispensable when it comes to providing personal, competent advice."
German car buyers have had the option to order a new or used Volkswagen online since late last year, and US buyers have shown a healthy appetite for the service, despite legal limitations. Here, used car sites have proliferated as convenient online shopping tools. Buyers can avoid the dealer altogether and have a car delivered right to their homes. Though some have had mixed experiences with the services, and they don't deal in new cars, it seems clear that US buyers are ready for an online lease program like the one VW just announced.