Audi will prod dealers to improve service departments and upgrade showrooms, its North American chief says.
Johan de Nysschen, who heads Audi of America Inc., says he is working with dealers to develop service standards befitting a premium brand.
"I want to deliver service to a customer that blows his mind so beyond his expectations that it builds loyalty," he said at a press event in Detroit.
De Nysschen also said Audi will push its "hangar concept" store design, called the New World of Audi showroom. It features lots of glass and aluminum, with natural materials and warm colors inside, he said. Remodeling could cost as much as $1.5 million per store, he said.
De Nysschen said Audi wants more stand-alone dealers. But he said low market share in some areas makes it impractical to require all dealers to have exclusive stores.
Audi has 260 U.S. dealers, but only 82 are exclusive. Many are paired with volume brands -- including corporate sibling Volkswagen, which gets low marks for vehicle quality and customer satisfaction.
Jerry Nelson, owner of Schneider Nelson Audi in West Long Branch, N.J., says the Q7 SUV, scheduled to arrive next year, and the Q5 SUV, coming in 2007, will make more dealers consider stand-alones.
"We are the only luxury franchise that has not had a large or small SUV," Nelson says. "We have been severely hampered. There is no question both the Q7 and the Q5 will bring volume to this franchise."
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