First Audi service center opens

Regensburg, Germany. The world's first Audi service center -- built in accordance with the German carmaker's new worldwide standard -- opened on June 3 in Regensburg.

The company behind the service center is Jepsen Automobilhandels GmbH, which owns four other businesses in Regensburg selling the Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche brands. Owner Wolfgang Jepsen invested 1.4 million euros in the business, excluding the cost of the site.

The Regensburg facility meets the standards demanded of all future Audi service partners. It does not sell any vehicles but offers a comprehensive range of other services.

The center consists of a workshop with capacity for up to seven vehicles, a customer area, an accessories shop and a spare parts depot.

Dietmar Hildebrandt, head of Audi customer services, believes that profitability for service providers will remain stable. Last year German Audi service providers had more than 4.2 million workshop orders -- from servicing to repair work -- and total sales of 1.5 billion euros.

The aim of the new service center concept is to further reduce the distance between the service provider and customer. Hildebrandt said that 1,500 service providers would make up "a healthy network density."

An investor in a new service center should expect costs of between 500,000 euros and 900,000 euros for the first stage of the modular workshop concept. Audi will be using the concept worldwide. The company is planning to open 40 service centers in Russia and 20 to 80 centers in China by 2005.

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