Interview: VW exec kick-starts brand’s bid to become an EV leader

Andrea Malllan | Automotive News Europe | 02 July 2019

Jochen Sengpiehl, VW brand head of marketing, acknowledges Tesla’s lead but insists that VW will be there for the next generation of EV adopters.

Why did you start the campaign for the VW ID3 compact electric car a year before deliveries begin?
For the fundamental transformation of Volkswagen toward e-mobility we are pursuing an entirely new marketing approach. We are starting much earlier than usual and not only talking about the product. Because many people are not as familiar with e-mobility as they are with internal combustion cars we want to provide information and break down prejudices.

Will the long lead time help you better understand how customers will react to EVs so you are better positioned to sell them?
We aren’t just concentrating on the pre-bookings. We want to learn what motivates our customers. Thanks to data-driven marketing we know where they come from, we know where they go, which content they like and don’t like. With our recently launched ID.Hub, we will learn how to improve ourselves. We have never worked like this before. Other companies started selling electric cars many years before us. We have to kick-start our efforts and make sure we do things right.

Who is the ID3’s target customer?
Using social demographics and psychographics we have identified for the first time a global target audience that we call “aspirational middle class.” With all innovations, however, you have this diffusion curve.

The Golf appeals to the masses. Tesla appeals to innovators. After the innovators come the early adopters. We want to target those early adopters. That’s why our communication is more edgy than with our conventional cars. If you catch the early adopters, the others will follow.

Are these car buyers younger than VW’s typical customer?
It’s more a matter of mindset because people of all ages are interested in electrification. That being said, most of the people are younger than buyers of a combustion engine car. The early adopters earn very good money, work at startup companies, live in urban environments, are well educated and move a little bit faster than the rest.

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