Audi of America Inc. pledged to spend more money on advertising this year to support the huge A8 launch and an increased focus on price-point and certified used-car ads.
Vice President Len Hunt would not disclose how much more the company will spend. Audi spent $51.8 million on U.S. measured media in the first nine months of last year, down 1.7 percent from the same period in 2001, according to Competitive Media Reporting in New York. Fourth-quarter numbers aren't available.
Dealers attending the make meeting got some information about the A8's U.S. launch. The car is expected to arrive in June, and advertising will deliver a message that the luxury-segment A8 drives like a sports car.
"It's a substantial financial commitment, one of the highest in Audi history," said Don Skuta, Audi national dealer council chairman, about the A8 debut. "The car is a great launching pad to take Audi to the next step." Skuta also is executive vice president of Champion Motors (Audi-Porsche) in Pompano Beach, Fla.
But dealers didn't get much detail on other future products. In two years, Audi will bring to the United States a crossover with three rows of seats that is part luxury van, part sport sedan. The vehicle will reflect the Pikes Peak quattro concept unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January. An announcement will be made at the Geneva auto show in March about another product coming to the United States. Hunt would not disclose details but said the vehicle will not be a TT-like coupe. He has said previously that Audi is considering the A3 as an entry-level vehicle for the United States.
With product filling the pipeline, Hunt turned to customer service matters. One of his goals for dealers is to take the top three spots in the luxury segment for customer satisfaction with service on J.D. Power's Customer Service Index within five years.