Audi in the City

One of the things that probably slipped under most coverage of London 2012 was that Audi took the opportunity to open its first “Audi City” operation in Piccadilly Circus, just prior to the opening of the Games. “Audi City” is not, of course, a city.

One of the things that probably slipped under most coverage of London 2012 was that Audi took the opportunity to open its first “Audi City” operation in Piccadilly Circus, just prior to the opening of the Games.

“Audi City” is not, of course, a city. Rather, it is a store. Attached to a dealership. And plans call for Audi to open more than 20 of these stores worldwide by 2015 in central urban locations.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi board member responsible for Marketing and Sales, said of the creation of Audi City, “People are placing greater emphasis than ever before on a direct and personal bond of trust with their vehicle brand—especially in respect of the increasing variety of products and available information. Thus, with Audi City, we are creating a one-stop-shop for experiencing our brand. It is right in the midst of our customers’ lives, yet seamlessly connected to the online range offered by the four rings.”

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While we’re not exactly sure what that means, we do know that auto sales in Europe are way, way down, and it is undoubtedly a dog-and-cat fight to get people to buy products. Remember that in Europe people generally order cars, then wait for delivery; they don’t go in to buy that snappy red one right off the lot, even though they had their hearts set on blue.

While Audi City is still going to be predicated on the ordering model—a key component are the use of digital screens that allow customers to “digitally select their vehicle from several hundred million possible combinations” on screens that provide a 1:1 presentation. (“Several hundred million possible combinations”? Talk about build complexity!)

One more thing. This isn’t some sort of mere place to buy cars. According to Audi, “The stores will also be used as a dialogue forum for issues outside of core automotive business. For example, following close of daily business, they will play host to readings, round-table discussions and exhibitions on issues such as urban development and mobility or on matters relating to art, culture and design.”

And we thought Audi was about Vorsprung durch Technik.