November’s sales results are typical of the rapid changes in the automotive sector. The month had passed cold for a few hours when the car media published all the numbers of these 11e month. Regardless, it remains difficult for brands to maintain sales volume, no doubt largely due to uncertainty and constraints that still affect our society.
Nevertheless, the November figures do show some interesting insights. First of all, the success of the Volkswagen ID3, in addition, Volvo is doing very well with the XC40 and the Renault Captur also seems back in business. The registrations of this successful number give the Boulogne-Bilancourt brand, together with the results of the Clio, a nice second place in the monthly overview. Also last month the first Aiways U5 – yes the name of a Chinese model car – were registered. The new brand is now also trying its luck in the Dutch sales lists. A striking absentee from every Top-10 list is the national sales icon Volkswagen Golf. A car model that has dominated the market for decades, that has been distributed as standard and risk-free to budding account managers, and that has made entire families mobile for years, seems to have lost its popularity forever. Wave, where are you?
Marketing by designers
Klaus Zyciora, the successful designer of Volkswagen, this week gives his followers on Instagram a nice look at the design kitchen. The designer sketches the new Volkswagen ID4 on his account and thus shows the instagrammers the birth of (again) a new Volkswagen model. I wrote it here before, but the designers of the car industry all take a good brand marketing role with their visibility on the social media channels. In addition to Klaus Zyciora, Mercedes’ Gorden Wagener and Renault’s Laurens van den Acker, for example, are also very active on the visual platform and in this way inspire the fans of their brand. For example, the Dutch designer of DS Automobiles Ivo Groen is again active on the LinkedIn platform.
Car designers are more visible than ever and play an important role as an ambassador
The activity of the designers therefore also helps the brand communication of the car manufacturers well. Where the inspiring design process used to be a black box, the consumer can now follow the creation of a new car from his or her mobile, which in any case results in greater involvement with the brands. A smart automotive designer is therefore quickly expanding this success from Instagram to his own YouTube channel and is also hooking up with the other major platforms. After all, you inspire consumers where they are and that is on average more than two hours a day on their mobile. And especially now that it is important for the car industry to also reach young people, this is a fantastic opportunity for the brands to engage this target group with creative content.
Golf as a common thread
Back to the versatile Volkswagen designer. Zyciora was born Klaus Bischoff in 1961, making it the same generation as BMW’s Adrian van Hooydonk (1964) and Renault’s Laurens van den Acker (1965). After studying Industrial Design at the University of Braunschweig, he started his design work at Volkswagen AG in 1989. His first job was the interior of the forthcoming Golf, the somewhat rounder model that appeared on the market in 1992.
Because of that first job Zyciora has a strong bond with the Golf brand icon, because as the creative brain of a successful car brand you will of course never forget your first design.
Especially if that car is also successful. In 2000 Klaus Zyciora became Head of Interior Design, after which he focused on exterior design from 2002. Since 2007 he has been in charge of Volkswagen’s entire design department. With more than 600 designers at the locations Wolfsburg, Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Mexico City, a large group of people together. In 2020, the designer will then take final responsibility for all design departments of the Volkswagen Group. The Volkswagen Golf is still a common thread in his impressive design career, Klaus Zyciora, whose design language stands for clean lines, minimalism and continuity, has played a leading role in the design choices for the Golf VI, the Golf VII and the Golf VII. The absolute brand icon that seemed to have eternal life but now no longer seems to be top of mind with the car buyer. After all, if you say “Volkswagen”, you automatically say “Golf”. At least it was.
The focus of not only Volkswagen Design, but also that of the entire group on the development of the electric ID family is a daring choice for this reason alone. Not only is head designer Klaus Zyciora putting the ID models in the spotlights on his Instagram account, the entire focus of the Volkswagen organization seems to be shifting to the ID-like. The ID3 is the first production version and is now available. You have to dare to let your brand icon over several decades in terms of marketing push aside a new concept and thus suddenly put all efforts into a new model.
Although a completely different set-up than the traditional Volkswagen Golf, the ID3 is undeniably recognizable as a Volkswagen.
A friendly and sleek front, in which, due to the lack of a grille, a style similarity with the famous Volkswagen Beetle and Volkswagen T1 can be found. In addition, the ID3 seems a bit more playful and smoothly designed, but it is still recognizable as a Volkswagen due to its ever-tight design choices such as the thick C-pillar. If you put the ID3 next to a Golf, the latter suddenly seems an older car despite its recent market introduction. Now that electric is the new standard in the car world, this also seems to mean new choices for car design. Laurens van den Acker, Renault’s chief designer, recently indicated this at the presentation of the electric showcar Mégane eVision. “Because batteries need a place in the bottom plate, electric cars are slightly higher. At only 111 millimeters, we now have the lowest battery pack and that helps enormously. In addition, an electric motor in the front requires less space and we can thus make the proportions in the design turn out slightly differently, ”the designer of the future ID competitor stated when asked. With this statement by an experienced car designer in mind, you can clearly see why Volkswagen has taken a different approach with the ID3. Especially if you put the new ID3 model next to the traditionally designed Golf.
The market seems to accept the new concept. Volkswagen has trainloads full of IDs ready to have them registered on the license plate at the low 8% addition this year. More than a month after its introduction, you see the ID3 appearing everywhere on the road and almost 5,000 license plates have already been registered. And almost all of them have already been sold! Of those nearly 5,000 registrations, 1,500 were registered in November, making the Volkswagen ID3 the best-selling car in our country. By way of comparison: the number 10 in the sales ranking, the Peugeot 208, has not even made half of it with 733 registrations. The expectation is that there will be a significant push from Volkswagen in December to be able to register the remaining stock of ID3s at the low addition rate.
The passenger car market will therefore be blown up in the coming month with cars that are now registered, but will not hit the road until the beginning of the new year. After all, other brands also prefer to screw the number plates on their electric cars against the existing addition. A market development that takes the old faithful Wave even further down the sales lists. Also a trend that will eventually make the ID3 and no longer the Golf the reference of the car mocking children in the back seat, because everything indicates that even with the higher addition in 2021, the ID3 will remain extremely successful. This may well end the time when the model name “Golf” was synonymous with the term “car”.
But what are we to do with that whole Golf tradition that is so strongly anchored in our car life? I am thinking of consumers who, after four or five years of Golf driving, blindly hand in their private savings to the VW dealer for a new Golf model. What do we do with the boys who just got out of school to buy a ten-year-old Golf, equip it with fat wheels, wide exhaust pipes and screw down ‘m en passant?
Will we ever feel the emotion of a Golf GTI again?
Isn’t the fleet manager of a small IT company or sales organization seriously confused because he can no longer blindly rely on the guaranteed residual value of a black Volkswagen Golf?
After all, you could not use a safer model car in the pool, because even if the lucky bird who came into service after a few months did not like it, as a fleet manager you would lose that black Golf to either the successor who entered service or the local dealer. The latter had probably already sold it to a private family that invariably bought such a beautiful Golf with the head off. After all, they had been doing that for years. The new trend also has consequences for the dealer. He will of course still be able to call these types of customers in a while, but he will now have to explain that it is no longer the Golf, but the ID3 that is the reference at Volkswagen. In the meantime, however, electric driving has become so accepted and so many ID3s are driving through the country that these consumers also thank Het Golfje for many years of loyal service and, like Klaus Zyciora, are starting to map out their electric future.
Het Golfje has started on its way back, and is now more at the back of the showroom. The Netherlands no longer thinks like this in the diamond trim of the Golf GTI, but rather thinks about the color combination of the ID3 First Edition.
Jos van den Bergh (1973) worked for almost 20 years in various PR & communication positions in the automotive industry and nowadays advises with his company MediaMondo automotive and media parties in the field of marketing communication, PR and media. He is also a dealer marketing advisor at BranchePartners in Houten. For MarketingTribune he critically follows the developments in the automotive world. Do you also need marketing advice? Mail Jos without obligation at firstname.lastname@example.org