Audi has a new strategy, get them well they are young and ready to buy. Audi is closing in on Mercedes-Benz in the small but crucial market for premium cars priced that start below $30,000.
In its first three months on the market, Audi’s A3 outsold the comparable Mercedes entry-level coupe almost 2 to 1, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
In June, the A3’s U.S. sales beat the CLA’s sales 2,452 to 1,658, according to Automotive News data. CLA sales have dropped in seven of the past eight months, a turnabout from last year, when the sporty four-door pushed Mercedes past BMW to become the U.S. best-seller and the most successful new Mercedes model in two decades.
“CLA was the only game in town for a while, and now there’s something to compare it to,” Michelle Krebs, an analyst at AutoTrader.com, said in an interview. “If you read some of the comparison tests, the A3 is coming out on top by a long stretch.”
While entry-level models represent just a fraction of overall sales for high-end luxury brands, the market is important. Carmakers use lower-priced vehicles to target young, upwardly mobile drivers who might become brand loyalists for life, eventually shelling out six figures for a top-of-the-line, high-margin sedan.
“The idea is to get them when their brand preference is being formed,” said Jesse Toprak, an analyst at Cars.com. “And then hopefully keep them as they make more money and upgrade.” Entering this market is a smart move on Audi’s part. It will be interesting to see what other luxury car manufactories will do to keep up to them.
The largest Audi dealership has opened in Houston. A unit of Sonic Automotive Inc. has opened the largest Audi dealership in the United States — a glitzy 142,000-square-foot store.
Audi Central Houston’s seven-story facility is more than eight-times the size of a conventional dealership, and roughly four times that of a typical Audi dealership built in the last five years, an Audi spokesman said.
The store’s ground-level 10-car showroom and sales area takes up roughly 16,000 square feet, Sonic President Scott Smith said in an e-mail to Automotive News.
There is “an additional 10,000 square-feet on the second level for support space,” Smith wrote.
Mark Del Rosso, COO of Audi of America, said in a statement Thursday the new dealership speaks volumes to customer and ownership experience.
“This new dealership exemplifies the growing investment of our dealer body,” Rosso said.
From electric to ethanol and even hydrogen fuel cells, we’ve seen a lot of advancements in the automotive world when it comes to alternative fuel solutions. But Audi has a new technology up its sleeves in the form of synthetic e-fuel.
Synthetically engineered e-fuel can replace gas and diesel, and so far Audi claims to be making significant strides in its performance and viability. The German automaker recently completed a series of tests, confirming that its e-fuels burn more efficiently in internal combustion engines than traditional fossil fuels, resulting in far fewer emissions.
E-fuel production takes the energy from the sun and nonpotable water and converts it into liquid fuel using a photosynthetic process involving microorganisms. But rather than the photosynthesis producing more cells, the microorganisms produce fuel. Audi claims there’s no need for fresh water or agriculture of any kind in the process.