Volkswagen Will Offer Atlas Test Drives Through Amazon

For two weekends, Amazon Prime Now customers in Los Angeles and Chicago can order a VW Atlas test drive online.

Although the technology exists, car manufacturers have not yet embraced online sales outside of the occasional publicity stunt. In an interesting twist of this concept, Volkswagen has teamed up with Amazon not to sell cars, but to deliver test drives of the Volkswagen Atlas.

The partnership, which Volkswagen announced on Monday, is exclusive to Prime customers in the Los Angeles and Chicago areas. Eligible members can register through Amazon to arrange an Atlas SEL to be delivered to the location of their choosing during the weekends of September 22 to 24 and September 29 to October 1. A “VW Atlas expert” will deliver an Atlas for a 45 to 60-minute test drive.

This idea is unique in many ways. For one, it saves the potential customer the time and effort it takes to travel to a VW dealer, which can be quite significant in LA or Chicago traffic. For another, it removes the dealership experience from the equation, which most car buyers will see as a positive. The representative facilitating the test drive is not the person who stands to profit directly from a sale, which eliminates the pressure to buy the car right away.

Only the top-of-the-line Atlas SEL Premium will be available for these on-demand test drives. Most likely VW wants to make the best impression to their potential customers as they can, similarly to how press cars are almost always fully optioned. Hopefully, test drivers won’t be disappointed when they look at some of the less expensive and less equipped models.

We’re still a long way from actually selling cars online. It’s certainly possible, but the law and the dealership system will likely prevent manufacturers from selling directly to consumers for some time to come. But ordering a test drive online might be enough to convince a potential customer that they want this particular car, and motivate them to visit a dealer to finish the transaction. It will be interesting to see how well Volkswagen’s collaboration with Amazon helps Atlas sales in LA and Chicago later this month.