Case study

How Volkswagen and Amazon Ads revved up interest for the ID.4 EV SUV with the first ever Test Drive With Alexa

Volkswagen test drive with Alexa

It’s a September afternoon in 2022, and a small fleet of Volkswagen ID.4 EV SUVs are zipping in and out of a blue structure outside of a shopping center in Washington, DC. Families, couples, and individual car shoppers are curiously checking out signs with the VW and Alexa logos and a flag that reads: “Test Drive With Alexa.” There isn’t a salesperson in sight. Instead, consumers are buckling into the ID.4 on their own and taking off in the vehicle for a solo test-drive, with Alexa as their only onboard companion.

This is one of the first-ever Test Drive With Alexa activations from the Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Volkswagen. The program allows customers in select regions to take Alexa-guided test-drives of Volkswagen’s ID.4 EV SUV. When participants arrive for their reserved test-drive time, they’ll receive a brief introduction to the car by an event specialist before taking the ID.4 for a solo spin. During their drive, the drivers get a feel for the ID.4 and can ask Alexa for more information on the many functions of the electric vehicle (EV).

For example, if drivers asked about the ID.4 battery, Alexa would respond: “The ID.4 is powered by an 82-kilowatt hour, 400-volt lithium-ion battery, providing an EPA-estimated range of up to 240 miles per charge1, depending your driving habits and vehicle condition.” And when drivers are done exploring in the new car, they could ask Alexa how to return to the location where the test-drive began. Alexa would simply ask the ID.4 to map a route home. No salesperson needed—just the driver, the car, and Alexa.

“People would show up not sure what to expect from this experience, and they would walk away from the test-drive interested in the car and really delighted. We educated them on their terms,” said Michael Lowenstern, creative director of the Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab. “We wanted to give consumers the freedom to drive the car without the obligation to talk to a salesperson sitting next to them for information. That’s where Alexa came in. It’s more of a freeing experience, which people really liked.”

Creating a new test-drive experience with Alexa

In 2022, Volkswagen wanted to find a creative way to inform consumers about their new ID.4 electric SUV. The brand also knew that in recent years, consumers had expressed an interest in an improved car-buying experience. Since 2020, surveys have shown that car shoppers “prefer help from dealership staff but don’t want to deal with salespeople.”2 Meanwhile, during the pandemic, at-home test-drives became more popular among consumers.

“In our push to bring EVs and electromobility to all, we need to find new and exciting ways to talk to our customers,” said Andrew Savvas, chief sales and marketing officer at Volkswagen Group of America. “This collaboration with Amazon does just that. Future Volkswagen owners can experience all our ID.4 has to offer with the aid of a voice service they’ve already come to know.”

Alexa proved to be the right solution. Shoppers could take a solo test-drive and still get answers to all the questions they may have about the new vehicle.

Volkswagen worked with the Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab and AWS to help develop the Test Drive With Alexa program, creating an experience that was both intuitive and added value, Savvas said. To develop answers to a wide range of questions that consumers might ask, the team started with the ID.4 owner’s manual and worked outward from there. They took the research online too, watching videos, scrutinizing reviews on enthusiast sites, and reading posts “to build a corpus of questions that people seemed to ask,” Savvas said. “Then, during the pilot, we continued to optimize toward questions people actually asked in the vehicle during the drive. The resulting skill is pretty exhaustive.”

Volkswagen and the Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab also created a custom landing page where participants could sign up for a Test Drive With Alexa and configure their own ID.4.

On the road to success with Alexa

After piloting the program in summer 2022, Volkswagen officially launched Test Drive With Alexa in September and ran the campaign in cities across the U.S. through December. During the test-drives in Los Angeles and Chicago, drivers asked more than 40 questions per drive.3 After test-driving the car with Alexa, 28% of participants requested more information about the Volkswagen ID.4, and a majority requested a follow-up from a dealer.4 Brand measurement from the campaign showed a statistically significant lift in awareness among 18- to 34-year-olds.5

“Drivers were excited about the vehicle and their unique test-drive experience. They said that they were ready to talk to a dealer there and then,” Savvas said. “We learned that customers are more apt to want to buy when they are not sold to. When they get the information they needed in a fresh fun way, they feel empowered to take the next step.”

Looking ahead, Savvas said Volkswagen sees Test Drive With Alexa as a program that is scalable to other markets and can be expanded across the customer experience to include virtual test-drives and more.

After all, the journey can be pretty seamless with Alexa in the passenger seat.

1 Updated range numbers available at
Car and Driver, US, 2020
3-4 Amazon internal data, 2022