Volkswagen is delivering innovation in many ways that you need to factor into your next car-buying equation.
From new technology and designs to new vehicles and (an industry-leading) new warranty – the carmaker is definitely on the move. We sat down with Scott Reed from Ontario Volkswagen, in Ontario, California, to talk VW innovation.
⇒SoCal’s VW HQ = Ontario Volkswagen
Hear the impressive details about what’s available right now and what’s being rolled out very soon. And learn about an exclusive (and free!) ride and drive event you can attend. VW Factory is bringing out brand new vehicles you won’t be able to buy – but you will have the opportunity to drive them on April 24th! All that and more in this iDriveSoCal Podcast.
Recorded March 29, 2018
Volkswagen Technology & Innovation
Scott: What makes most of this stuff so easy for a new owner of a Volkswagen to be immediately comfortable in the new car that they just purchased is the fact that they already know how their phone operates.
They know how to pull the navigation up on their telephone. And now that can so seamlessly be transferred up to the display on the vehicle. I think the bigger story with a lot of our cars is the design, the design itself, not necessarily technology.
You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck with Volkswagen these days and especially now with the 6-year, 72,000 mile you know People’s First warranty. That’s industry-leading.
Tom: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States–Southern California.
I’m Tom Smith and today I’m out at Ontario Volkswagen in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, California. Ontario Volkswagen is just off the 15. And joining me is the sales manager of Ontario Volkswagen, Mr. Scott Reed. Thank you so much for joining us and thank you for being our newest automotive retail partner.
Scott: Not a problem. I thank you guys for being here. We’re excited.
Southern California Volkswagen History
Tom: We’re excited to start bringing the news of Volkswagen to drivers throughout Southern California. So I always like to start off with everyone’s path to the automotive business is different. How did you get into the business yourself?
Scott: For me, it’s a family affair. I was born and raised in the car business for the most part. My dad goes way back in the Southern California automotive retail side of things.
So I kind of grew up in showrooms and sales managers’ offices and things like that. And then shortly after high school, I decided I wanted to start selling cars. So dove into it.
Dad wouldn’t give me a job working for him because I didn’t know how to sell cars. So I went over to a Ford dealership close to my home and showed up as a 19-year-old kid and said, “I’d like to learn how to sell cars.” They gave me a job and I learned the ropes. Did that for about a year and came back to Dad..
Tom: And growing up, was there ever a time that you were like, “Maybe I want to be a doctor. Maybe I want to be a lawyer,” or anything but? Were you always like,”Dad does this. I love that. I want to do it too.”?
Scott: Yeah, not particularly, no. I liked to play baseball as a kid. You know when you grow up and realize that you’re probably not going to be a professional baseball player. For me, luckily, it was earlier than most kids. I realized that at about 13 or 14. So I kind of gave that up and played water polo and swam all through high school and my first year in college.
Family –> Cars
Scott: But yeah, I realized very shortly I was ready to get to work and start making some money for myself.
So I went to community college and as soon as I started selling cars, I really enjoyed it, enjoyed the people that I worked with, enjoy speaking with people and customers on a daily basis. And I was kind of just…it felt like a natural progression to me. And still, 16 years later, I still enjoy it, and I still feel like I’m growing still, which is nice.
But I’ve got really no interest in doing anything else to be honest.
Tom: And do you consider yourself a car guy from a perspective of are you grabbing the kids and going to a car show on a Cars and Coffee kind of thing on a weekend?
Scott: We do, yeah. My kids and I, we do like to go to the automotive shows and check out what’s new out there. Every time something new comes out, I get kind of excited about it. I know my wife does as well. And you know luckily for us, we’re in a position to be able to drive you know cars maybe a little more regularly than somebody not in the business is able to.
Tom: You get to experience a little bit more.
Scott: We do, yeah.
People Have To Drive
Tom: So on that note, let’s talk a little bit about Volkswagen the brand. And you know, iDriveSoCal is all about mobility and in Southern California, mobility is a car, right?
Everybody’s got one. Everybody’s got to drive. Maybe someday that will be flying cars or whatever else. That would be really cool.
We talked about that with your dad as well. He was talking about you know even if it got to the point of The Jetsons, like somebody…provide those for…
Scott: Somebody’s going to want to buy one, and we’re going to have to sell them.
Tom: Right exactly. Exactly.
Scott: We may be getting there with the way they’re doing self-driving cars and things like that.
Tom: Isn’t it crazy?
Scott: I’m still waiting for the hoverboard that was promised to me right in the “Back to the Future”.
Tom: Right. Right.
Scott: I grew up skateboarding and surfing and snowboarding and all that. I’m waiting for that hoverboard. If we get flying cars before hoverboards, I’m going to be upset.
Tom: So Volkswagen, all manufacturers have some pretty crazy tech in innovation and everybody’s one-upping each other.
The VW Difference
Scott: Yeah, I think car manufacturers have actually realized that over probably the last eight or nine years, you know there was a time when the technology was progressing that cars became so involved inside, they were difficult to use as a driver.
Too many buttons on the dashboard, too many things beeping and chiming at you, which also…they were built as safety features but ended up almost distracting the driver to a point of being unsafe. I think Volkswagen has done really, really well, especially with the new…really going back to about 2016 now through the 2018s and coming to the 2019s.
Everything’s very, very simple to use. All that tech is in there, but with the voice command, with the simplicity of the dash and the touch screen displays, I mean you can get your car set up in 20 to 30 minutes with one of the salespeople here on delivery and have a really good grasp on how everything works.
And if you want to change something, you’ll know how quickly at home to change it and tweak it. Whereas, you know, five, six years ago, you didn’t have these touchscreen functionalities to be able to go in and make small tweaks to your driving systems and things like that that you can today.
Tom: To put it to computer terms or like a website term, you know a user interface or UX, right? The vehicle has the same thing and a different manufacturer took a little bit of criticism for, yeah, they brought out this whiz, bang, holy cow you know tremendous computing power in the car, but gosh, to figure out how to use it, forget about it.
User-Friendly Volkswagen Innovation
Scott: I experienced that myself. I worked for a different brand, a different manufacturer outside of my dad’s stores a few years ago and drove one of that brand’s vehicles and the inside of it looked like a 747.
I mean it was so incredibly difficult to use anything. The really nice looking car you know the higher-end car, not one of those ultra-luxury cars but a car that’s attainable to most people like myself, and for the entire two years I had it, I never felt like I knew the car. And I also didn’t have the time to mess with it to really learn it.
It was the product that was selling, so I sort of felt obligated to drive it. But to get into these new Volkswagens now, we just call my wife the new Atlas, to get in there and kind of just playing with the functions in that car, it’s night and day difference. It’s very, very simple.
I think it’s really important for manufacturers going forward, and Volkswagen is doing a heck of a job of staying at the forefront of that, just making it user-friendly, especially in Southern California. We’re all so busy now. Nobody has the time or the patience to sit in their driveway and mess with their car for 30 or 40 minutes before they leave.
Tom: We’re stuck in traffic, and the reality is we can’t just sit there and think about going from gas to break for the next hour and a half. So we have all kinds of tech and innovation and being able to use it efficiently, effectively without having to download a whole bunch of knowledge is so crucial.
Volkswagen Infotainment Technology & Innovation
Scott: To me, the most impressive thing in all of it is the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
I mean I think that’s what makes most of this stuff so easy for a new owner of a Volkswagen to be immediately comfortable in the new car that they just purchased is the fact that they already know how their phone operates. They know how to pull the navigation up on their telephone.
And now that can so seamlessly be transferred up to the display on the vehicle. It takes a lot of thought out of it for the customer which is nice. Instead of learning how to operate inboard navigation, which so few of these cars are actually being built with anymore, they just plug their phone into the CarPlay, and it’s done.
So I think that’s probably the biggest thing, and I know a lot of other manufacturers are doing that as well. Volkswagen’s really nice job with the interface that they built.
And once you come in and you actually see the displays in some of these cars, you don’t really…it’s hard to tell on a podcast what I’m talking about. It’s such a nice, good looking, cosmetically pleasing interface. Once the phones hooked up with it, it’s just…like I said, it’s very seamless.
Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
Tom: So this is Apple CarPlay…
Scott: Android Auto.
Tom: And Android Auto and this allows me… am I connecting via Bluetooth or am I plugging hard hardwiring in?
Scott: Hardwire for a lot of the…if you want your apps to pop up from your actual phone screen, you’re hardwiring in. Bluetooth is all still there as well if you wanna listen to music via one of the streaming music lines, you can do that via Bluetooth. But to get that navvy and things like that on the screen, you are going through a hardwire.
Tom: And then I get to select if I want to use Waze or Google Maps or Google Play, Google Play Music which is where you can listen to iDriveSoCal. Also, of course, all the other iTunes and whatnot.
VW Design Innovation & Technology
Scott: I think the bigger story with a lot of our cars is the design, the design itself, not necessarily technology. I mean like the Atlas, for instance. I think one of the best features of that new Atlas is how they designed that second row. For a child seat be anchored in, you don’t have to remove it to get into the third row like you do with almost every other SUV out there.
Tom: Oh that’s huge.
Scott: Things like that’s really where they kind of set themselves apart from the competition because if you had kids or… Thank God my kids are both out of car seats and booster seats.
Tom: I just started.
Scott: Anybody who’s anchored a car seat into the anchors in a car knows that once it’s in there, the last thing you want to do is take it in, take it out and kind of reinstall it all the time.
Tom: You bet.
Scott: The Atlas designed in a way where you can flip that seat forward with that child seat still in place, and your third-row passengers can enter and exit the back row.
Tom: That’s brilliant.
Scott: Nobody else can do that on the market, so that’s awesome. You know Volkswagen took a long time to get to the seven-passenger SUV game. We were probably the last ones to the party, but it was important to them that they designed the car you know correctly before they brought it to market. And it’s very clear if you come in and check it out, the car stands far apart from its competitors.
Tom: And now speaking of that, let’s talk a little bit about the lineup itself. So you mentioned the Atlas. That is a biggie for you guys.
Scott: That’s big. We’ve been waiting on it for years.
Tom: Years, huh?
Scott: Years in the making. You’ve got to understand, with Volkswagen, most of these other manufacturers have had a seven-passenger SUV now for upwards of, in some cases, 15 years. Volkswagen has not had anything other.
We have the Touareg, which was a really nice high-end five-passenger SUV. But we eliminated ourselves from an entire segment of shoppers that needed a seven-passenger family SUV.
So to have that come to market, finally, for Volkswagen was a huge deal, not only to have something to offer but to offer it in a price range they’ve offered it in is huge. And we’re already seeing the cars doing very, very well nationally, especially here in Southern California.
Tom: It seems to be–and I haven’t driven one yet, I look forward to it. It’s very appealing aesthetically inside and out. It looks like a tremendous value for what it is, not to mention it’s a European car. It’s a German car. I mean all those are like, huh, this is some serious consideration.
Volkswagen Innovation Made In The USA
Scott: Being built right here in the U.S. helps too. Yeah. When we talk about pricing, that’s got a great deal to do with how they’ve priced it so competitively.
They build it right here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And it’s fantastic. Not only is it new to the market, now a lot of the other SUV is in that segment are becoming a little bit stale. You’ve got a lot of them that have had roughly the same body style for the last 10 years or so.
So it’s nice to have something fresh that nobody’s seen before. It’s different. Volkswagen’s always prided itself on being different. There’s no doubt that this new Atlas is different. But once you start looking at the value of what you get within each trim level, that car’s hard to match with any manufacturer.
And it can be compared very competitively to the other domestic SUVs, which is what most people compare it to, but even if you start looking at some of the higher-end Euro SUVs. you can spend $20,000, $25,000 less on an Atlas than some of those higher-end competitors and still get a lot of the same features you’re getting in those higher-end cars.
Form And Function
So I think it’s actually appealing to a broader audience than Volkswagen maybe thought it would, especially here in Southern California because SUVs and pickup trucks are I mean that’s what we drive here in Southern California for the most part.
Tom: I love the functionality of seven-passenger of a third row. Some of the cars out there look like you know, like, oh, you know from the outside, that’s got an extra row, and it doesn’t look quite as aesthetically pleasing. The Atlas, I was surprised to hear there was another row, and it’s spacious back there.
Scott: Yeah, more surprising once you get in the car. It doesn’t look like a big behemoth driving down the road. It looks very European, very sleek. But once you get in it, it’s giant.
It’s got probably one of the most comfortable third rows out there. You know a lot of these manufacturers design them, and the third row is kind of an afterthought because they have to have it in there at this point, but it’s really not designed for anybody over about five feet tall.
You can put seven full-size adults in an Atlas and be comfortable. And that middle row reclines so if you don’t have third-row passengers, your second-row passengers can kind of lay back and get comfortable. That’s really very impressive.
Tom: So other than the Atlas, what other items in your model lineup would you like to touch base on?
Volkswagen Crossover SUV Innovation
Scott: Tiguan. Tiguan’s a big deal for us as well. Volkswagen’s had the Tiguan in their line for quite some time now, but they also just stretched that car out 11 inches. Now our long wheelbase Tiguan which also has a third row in it.
So also a seven-passenger capability which is huge. That car’s selling very, very well also. Not everyone needs that full size, Atlas size SUV. So that’s competing actually quite well with the Atlas within the dealership. And then, of course, we’ve got Jetta, we’ve got Passat, the old go-tos that Volkswagen is still doing really well with.
Those vehicles are very smartly designed, still incredibly priced, and most of them have all these technological features we’ve been discussing standard nowadays which is really, really nice. You know, to be able to come in and get a Jetta for the price you can get a Jetta for with all of the standard features on it is really impressive.
It makes cars with a lot of content in them available to a lot of buyers. Whereas, you know, maybe our younger buyers in the past were sort of pushed into a lower end segment where the cars didn’t have a whole lot of features in them, you know, crank up windows, things like that. Cars, at one point, didn’t have air conditioners.
Innovative Warranty – People First
I remember that was an option at one point. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck with Volkswagen these days and especially now with the 6-year, 72,000 mile you know People’s First warranty. That’s industry-leading.
Tom: Tell us about that.
Scott: Well yeah. You know for the most part, across the board, you’ve got your standard three-year 36 warranty for most manufactures, which is your comprehensive you know warranty if you will. Volkswagen essentially stepped up and doubled that six-year, 72000 miles now on every new 2018 Volkswagen which is huge. That’s not only value wise because the pricing of the vehicles didn’t go up with that. Volkswagen built that in to not only be able to offer what the competitors can’t but it kept the pricing where it’s at for the most part.
Tom: Is that bumper to bumper?
Scott: It’s bumper to bumper. It’s bumper to bumper. Everybody loves to use that term but that’s our bumper to bumper warranty with roadside assistance, all of it.
Tom: Six years, 72,000.
Scott: And that’s a big deal, especially in Southern California because we drive a lot here. You know what people forget about warranties is that it’s years or mileage whichever comes first.
Ontario Volkswagen Innovation In Customer Relations
It’s never both. So somebody who’s driving 15,000 or 20,0000 miles a year which is fairly regular in Southern California, you could buy a brand new car in a year and a half from now be out of bumper to bumper warranty. And, that really helps kind of combat some of that. So now to have coverage for, in some cases, the life of the entire loan, really is a lot of peace of mind.
Tom: Absolutely. I mean peace of mind and huge, huge savings too, right? Okay, I think that brings us to the upcoming event that we wanted to talk about.
Scott: We do have a new Jetta coming out. New Jetta, originally, it was scheduled for a June release. Looks like it’s maybe a little early now. We have the brand new 2019 Jetta which is a complete redesign, ground up. This thing is going to get close to 40 miles a gallon within a normal gas turbo engine story.
Scott: Yes. Still going to have your Jetta pricing which is fantastic. I have that new warranty we just discussed, and we’re actually having a launch party here on April 24th, which is a Tuesday night.
All-New Volkswagen Jetta Innovation
Volkswagen corporate is actually bringing four or five of those cars out for our guests who’d like to come in and test drive it, see it. We’re going have food. We’ll probably have some fun stuff for the kids if you want to bring those. We had mini horses over here the night we did the Atlas launch party which was pretty neat.
We do parties a little more than most of our competitors do. So we spend a little extra money on that to make it fun for the customers who want to come out and check out the new product.
Tom: Sure. And this is…it’s not going to be available for, from the time you have the party, another…
Scott: Probably another month. Roughly. I mean with logistics, obviously, things can delay from getting here in the showroom, but we’re expecting to have that car for sale no later than June. So we’ll be taking preorders that night for customers who are interested in doing so.
And it’s nice that Volkswagen does this because a lot of times when a new product is released, they don’t do a dealership level promotion. You know they’ll sometimes have a ride and drive for the public that’s maybe out in Los Angeles or elsewhere.
But we’re actually able to have one here where they’re going to bring ours to our guests to be able to check it out. A few different trim levels will be present. And like I said, we’ll be test-driving them all night with people. If the customers choose, we’ll do preorders and go from there.
2019 Jetta Launch Party
Tom: Yeah that’s an exciting thing, as you point out, that the manufacturers can do that very often for…I can’t think many times I’ve heard of them doing that. But like we have a contributor, I call him “the Professor”, Clinton Quan, he knows the most granular details about cars and what manufacturers tap him all the time for those kinds of things.
But it’s not an open to public thing. So it’s kind of like what Clinton gets all the time, folks, is what you can come to Ontario Volkswagen and enjoy April…
Scott: April 24. Tuesday the 24th. Yeah we’re going to start probably officially about 5 but store’s open all day if you want to come in early.
We’ll have food and drinks. It’s not a selling event which is nice. You know folks like that approach to things so we’re here to help and answer questions. We’ll have factory personnel on hand to do the same thing. And it will be fun, plus, you can check out any of the other models we discussed today as well. We’ll have a full lineup of cars here ready for everybody to come see.
Tom: Well, thank you so much, Scott Reed, Sales Manager here at Volkswagen Ontario. It’s actually Ontario Volkswagen, right? You can be found online ontariovolkswagen.com or ontariovw.com.
Scott: Yes, sir. We have an Instagram page, Facebook page, we’re everywhere now.
Ontario Volkswagen –> Southern California’s VW Destination
Tom: Follow them, like them, stop in and say hi to them. Scott’s always here. Thank you so much for coming on board with iDriveSoCal. We’re so excited to intermingle our families, yours and ours.
Ontario Volkswagen, the place to come for Volkswagens now and a long time to come, especially on April 24th to check out the event, and it’s absolutely no pressure because you can’t even…they don’t have…the manufacturer is bringing out a few of them for you to crawl through and check out and test drive, but they’re not even going to be…
Scott: I couldn’t tell you when if you wanted me to.
Tom: Right. Exactly. All right, excellent. Scott, thank you again.
Scott: Thank you, Tom.
Tom: And until next time, this is iDriveSoCal. I’m Tom Smith. Thanks for listening.