Audi of America Launches European Delivery Program

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October 16, 2006

By: Jason Teller

Last week we reported that Audi would definitely be offering Americans a European Delivery program in the near future – and speculated early 2007. It seems that all the Audi reps we had been talking to were right on with their information, but were harboring a little secret. Audi of America has not only officially launched the long-sought-after delivery program, but has done so as of October 13, 2006!

We have had the opportunity over the years to provide Audi of America with literally hundreds of suggestions for improving and enhancing the Audi ownership experience. For many involved with the brand for quite some time the original request was quite simply to build better quality and more reliable product. Audi certainly listened to that feedback and has substantially evolved its product to what is today an industry leading interior, high engine and electronics reliability and upward movement in J.D. Power satisfaction ratings.

Next came the customers’ appeal for a better trained, more knowledgeable and brand-specific dealer network. That remains a work in progress, and one that Audi of America boss Johan de Nysschen talks about often. Nearly 100 of Audi’s 267 US dealers are now Audi-exclusive, and many have invested millions of dollars to build state-of-the-art “Audi Hangar” showrooms in an attempt to help elevate the Audi customer experience to the same high level as the products. Repeat Audi owners will definitely agree that there is positive momentum surrounding Audi dealers’ sophistication and capabilities.

With the product and dealer network in order one of the most common requests heard among American Audi enthusiasts (and even some first time buyers) was the ability to take delivery of a new Audi at the factory, spend time driving the car in Europe and then have it shipped at no additional cost to the US. Audi direct competitors – and fellow German manufacturers – BMW and Mercedes-Benz offer a European Delivery program, as does Porsche, Saab and Volvo. High end exotic manufacturers such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Maserati also have this capability, albeit typically with more customized, expensive programs.

Audi is finally part of the club.

Rather than explain the program in all its fine print, here are a few high details. The complete information is of course available from Audi of America’s website (link below).

First, don’t assume for a second that your local dealer will be completely up-to-speed regarding this program. Although we have confirmed with at least two dealers that the information has been made available, it will undoubtedly take some time to completely filter out. If you are interested in European Delivery then you should realize that some dealers may be more interested in selling you a vehicle directly off the lot rather than digging into the European Delivery details. Be polite, be firm and be patient. They will be able to work it out because in the end although there is lower margin for the dealer there is also no floor cost; the sale essentially becomes an extra car for the dealer.

Second, it is important to realize that only “sold order” vehicles will be eligible for the European Delivery program. You cannot go to a dealer and arrange for European Delivery of a pre-built Audi – no instant gratification! Your dealer must order your new Audi as the very first step of the process.

Third, beyond the thrill of actually driving on the Autobahn in your own Audi before bringing it Stateside, there are some economic benefits to the European Delivery program. Audi knows two very important things about European Delivery customers and is willing to compensate them appropriately. First, these customers are enthusiastic brand ambassadors who should return from a memorable European trip ready to spread the good word about Audi. Second, these customers – assuming they have the great experience in Europe – are much more apt to do it all over again the next time they buy a car. For owners who are loyal to the brand in these ways Audi is more than willing to sell them European Delivery cars at a set discount below MSRP (typically 5%) and also provide lodging, meals, airport pickup, 15-days of insurance coverage and other perks.

Fourth, on the downside, when you return home from your European vacation / delivery experience your car will not be waiting for you. Audi is saying to expect 30-40 days, which is in line with other manufacturers’ delivery times to the US of 4-6 weeks. Still, this is roughly the same transit time required if you had placed a sold order and not taken delivery in Europe first.

While we were unable to get any official estimates from Audi, we expect this program to attract somewhere around 1,000 buyers in its first year and show healthy growth thereafter. One Audi of America official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the program has been designed both for brand conquest and for brand retention. At least half of the anticipated European Delivery program buyers are expected to be first time Audi owners who are buying from Audi solely because of the program, while a good portion of the remaining buyers will be those already loyal to the brand. These would be the same individuals mentioned above who have seen Audi through its product improvement and dealer enhancement phases all the while clamoring for a European Delivery program.

AudiWorld has a long term 2007 Daytona Gray Q7 4.2 S-Line on order with a late calendar 2006 delivery and we hope to be early testers – and of course report on – Audi’s European Delivery program via the Q7. Stay tuned.


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