Volkswagen Korea said it is currently in talks with Korea’s largest mobile messenger service Kakao Talk to review the possibility of selling its vehicles through the Kakao Mobility application by as early as the end of the year.
Audi and Volkswagen Korea have also ordered recalls for a total 82,291 units across nine models powered by emissions-cheating 2.0-liter EA189 diesel engine last week.
“The sales strategy of going online is a result of the Volkswagen Korea’s weakened dealer network over the past year, while following an emerging trend in the auto industry where a growing number of auto companies are choosing to sell cars online,” said Lee Ho-geun, professor of automotive engineering at Daeduk University.
Adding weight to the possibility of turning to online sales, Audi Volkswagen Korea appointed Rene Koneberg as the new group managing director last month.
Koneberg had played a key role in producing Asia’s first premium car-sharing service Audi at Home, and Audi City, the first digital showroom in Asia.
Following the diesel-emissions cheating scandal, Audi Volkswagen Korea recorded a loss of 226.2 billion won in 2016, compared to the 47.2 billion won profit posted a year earlier, according to figures by the Financial Supervisory Service.
Last year’s earnings halved to 1.3 trillion won from 2.8 trillion won in 2015.
The new Volkswagen Tiguan sport utility vehicle and Arteon sedan alongside the banned 12 top selling Volkswagen and Audi models, including Audi A4, A5 and A6, passed the gas emission and noise tests by the Ministry of Environment in August.
“Bolstering brand image and restoring loyal customers that Audi and Volkswagen lost to Japanese companies won’t be easy. But there are hurdles the two must overcome,” Lee added.
For the first time since December 2012, sales of Japanese carmakers -- Toyota, Nissan and Honda -- stood for over 20 percent of total import car sales here in July this year, according to Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.
Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus sold 8,147 units as of August compared to 5,803 units sold last year.
By KimBo-gyung (firstname.lastname@example.org)