When it comes to shopping for a new car, the most enjoyable part of the whole process (for us, anyway) is the test drive. While most of us have learned how to do the dance with car salesmen, we wouldn’t really rate “personal contact” as one of our key reasons for visiting a dealership.
These days, information on new cars is plentiful, and a few hours worth of research can tell you all you need to know about a new car, including its strengths and weaknesses. That’s why we’re a bit puzzled at the logic behind Audi’s latest trend in retail, something it’s calling Audi City.
Meant for locations where space is at a premium (like Central London), Audi City stores will be staffed with product experts and a Customer Relationship Manager, all on hand to answer any questions prospective buyers (or current customers) may have about the brand, in as much detail as needed.
Every single vehicle in Audi’s lineup will be on display, too, but not in a way most of us expect. Instead of seeing actual cars in the showroom, Audi City visitors can view life-size images of vehicles on display screens. While a few popular models may be shown on the floor, the emphasis will be on virtual product.
While prospective buyers can see exactly how a car will look in a given color and option package configuration, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to view an actual model of the car they’re shopping. While that may be good enough for some, it certainly wouldn’t meet our expectations for buying a car.
Each Audi City location will be paired with a brick-and-mortar dealership location, and we’re pretty sure that test drives will be easily arranged. On the plus side, the Audi City concept will expand the brand’s presence into locations that previously wouldn’t support a dealership, and it will allow resident to interact with Audi outside of a sales relationship, too.
Audi City locations will also be used to host events relating to urban development, mobility, are, culture and design, establishing themselves as a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
It’s worth noting that Audi
isn’t the first automaker to pursue an upscale retail experience, either: BMW has its Brand Store in Paris
, and will open boutiques, called i Stores
, dedicated to its range of electric cars. Even Lotus has embraced the high-end boutique model
, opening it’s first Lotus Originals store in Monaco.