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VOLKSWAGEN is set to move to an agency style sales model for all electric vehicles sold in the European Union following the appointment this week of new regional sales head, Thomas Owsianski.

Mr Owsianski will start his new role on April 1, moving from his position as head of sales and marketing for Volkswagen South America. The brand’s current European sales head, Manfred Kantner, will become VW’s head of product marketing.

The veteran VW staffer and former Ford and General Motors executive has been tasked both with bolstering sales of the German brand’s ID range of battery-electric models and overseeing the successful introduction of an agency retail model for EV sales in European markets.

Volkswagen ID models have failed to meet sales forecasts, the company reportedly cancelling shifts and laying off contract workers at its German factories.

The Zwickau plant, which manufactures the ID.3, ID.4, Audi Q4 e-tron and Cupra Born, is said to be “barely working to capacity”, with production lines in Emden, which produces the ID.4 and ID.7, also idled several times in recent months.

In November, Volkswagen cut the number of shifts at its all-electric plant in Zwickau to keep the site viable as it reacted to subdued demand for electric cars.

German publication Automobilwocher reports that the facility has scaled down to two shifts from three, lowering the output of ID.3 and Cupra Born models.

“The decision ensures productive operation and the future viability of the site,” a Volkswagen spokesperson told the publication.

The news follows the October announcement that VW would temporarily halt production of the Audi Q4 e-tron, Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, Volkswagen ID.4 and Volkswagen ID.5 due to limited demand.

Manfred Kantner

Automobilwocher says Volkswagen is struggling to match Tesla’s global electric vehicle dominance and predicts lean demand for VW electric vehicles over the next two years. It is a point the publication says has prompted Volkswagen to make the shift to an agency sales model for all electric vehicles across its European market.

As seen elsewhere, under the agency style model VW will invoice customers directly, while dealerships receive a fixed fee for each sale.

Despite the gloom surrounding its electric models, Volkswagen remains Europe’s top-selling automotive brand with 2023 sales up 12 per cent to 1.36 million units.

The figure gives the brand a 10.6 per cent market share in the European Union, European Free Trade Association and UK markets according to the ACEA.

By Matt Brogan

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