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VOLKSWAGEN has taken the next step to create a global digital sales network by completing the purchase of a German online digital services company.

It is part of a business plan that Volkswagen said would “create the world’s largest automotive ecosystem that links dealers with cars and with customers”.

Volkswagen this month followed up its 49 per cent purchase in 2018 of digital services company Diconium by buying the remaining stake.

Volkswagen has been working with Diconium at the car-maker’s We Campus in Berlin since July 2019. The campus is intended to be the hub for Volkswagen to bring together about 900 specialists for the development of mobility and digital services.

The global online sales platform will allow Volkswagen customers to purchase and manage all the upcoming ‘We’ services and on-demand functions for their connected vehicles.

The functions available will include multimedia streaming, automatic payment for fuel, battery charging and parking, and over-the-air updates.

In addition, the online sales platform will be linked to the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, which is also being developed by VW’s software division in conjunction with Microsoft.

But while the program is going ahead in Europe, Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) told GoAutoNews Premium that there are no details of any Australian involvement.

VGA PR and brand experience manager Kurt McGuiness said: “The prospect of offering greater integration between customers, dealers and HQ is of great importance for all of us.

“Given future vehicles will have greater digital connectivity – app updates, services on demand, etc – all car-makers will need to further ‘lean in’ to digital eco systems. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

The acquisition of Diconium is seen as boosting Volkswagen’s development of online sales which will allow customers of all group brands to purchase and manage digital services and on-demand functions for their connected vehicles in the future.

Diconium will be working with Volkswagen’s vehicle software division that is responsible for digital services for customers across the group’s brands like Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat.

One of the problems is that in Australia, Audi has an independent distribution agreement and is not directly involved with Volkswagen and Skoda brands. Seat is not sold in Australia.

In a report from AM Online out of the UK, Volkswagen brand board member responsible for digital car and services, and CEO of the Car.Software organisation, Christian Senger, said the company was committed to digital solutions.

“The VW Group is committed to offering our customers a steadily growing range of innovative digital added-value services which they can use conveniently and safely both directly in their cars and via their mobile devices,” he told AM Online.

“The technological basis will be the uniform online sales platform which we are developing for all our brands within the Car.Software organisation.

“The proven expert knowledge, experience and digital culture of our colleagues from Diconium will give us a significant boost in this area.”

At the Volkswagen Group end-of-year press conference in December 2018, passenger car chief operating officer Ralf Brandstatter said: “The Volkswagen Automotive Cloud lays the groundwork for offering an ever-growing range of digital services in fully connected vehicles via our ‘We’ ecosystem.

“We are building up our strengths with further partners; we recently welcomed on board Microsoft and Diconium, acknowledged experts in digital business models. And we are confident more partners will be joining us soon.

“The aim is to create the world’s largest automotive ecosystem that links up all our customers, cars and dealers.”

Diconium was formed in 1995 and has its headquarters in Stuttgart. Its activities include strategy development and the design of the user experience (UX), as well as the implementation and operational realisation of business ideas.

It has a total workforce of about 800 people working in Germany, Portugal, the US and India.

The core competences of Diconium include the development of sales platforms for digital products and services as well as IT systems in customer management.

By Neil Dowling

Dealer Solutions