Pandemic Prompts Rush On Technology At Volkswagen



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Volkswagen of America is the latest automaker to play up its flexibility and mechanisms for keeping consumers safe during the pandemic.

The automaker is launching “Sign Anywhere,” which will allow consumers to complete financial paperwork on a mobile device (like a tablet) without physical interaction with a finance representative.

While digital signature technology has been in widespread use for some time, it has taken time to adopt this technology to meet the requirements found in the financial services space. Volkswagen is among the first to offer “Sign Anywhere” at its dealerships through its financial services arm VCI.

The remote digital signature tool is powered by CDK Global and is considered quite secure. It uses two-factor authentication to transmit information and dealers can receive funding in hours following a vehicle purchase.

But of course there will be diehards who don’t want their signature “out there” in the internet. (These are likely the same people who won’t shop online because they are afraid their credit care information will be compromised.)

Several other automakers, including Lexus and Hyundai, have been playing up their flexibility in meeting shoppers at their homes or wherever (maybe a park or somewhere outdoors) for test drives and transactions.

It wasn’t too long ago that Ford Motor Co.s Lincoln brand was thought to be way ahead of its time for offering remote test drives for prospective owners, as well as a concierge service that picks up and drops off vehicles in need of service for current owners. But things are changing rapidly because of health concerns.

“Planning to implement this technology began two years ago  — but since this pandemic took hold, we’ve accelerated our plan to make this a permanent tool for our dealers,” said Anthony Bandmann, president and CEO of VW Credit, Inc.  “Customers are asking for flexibility and looking for peace of mind, especially during this time, and Sign Anywhere helps provide that.”

“Sign Anywhere” was initially made available to 10 Volkswagen dealers as part of a pilot program in April 2020. Due to social distancing measures remaining in place and positive feedback about the use of the software tool from customers and dealers, it has been expanded to approximately 420 Volkswagen dealerships across the country. Over 1,900 vehicle purchases or leases have been finalized using “Sign Anywhere” since its implementation.

An IT professional told me last week that the technology shifts would have happened eventually, maybe in five or 10 years, but because of the pandemic, consumers are not only willing to get on board, but are demanding it.

What’s next, a self-cleaning vehicle that disinfects itself automatically after every use?  That would be handy.  Stay tuned.

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