Audi of America will end its free maintenance program beginning with the 2007 model year, much to the distress of dealers.
Called the Audi Advantage, the four-year/50,000-mile program was established in the late 1980s as a way to restore consumer confidence and jump-start the brand in the United States. Only a few auto companies offer free maintenance - but they include a chief Audi rival, BMW.
"They are getting rid of it because of costs. Dealers feel it is a large advantage," said Tom Harper, incoming chairman of the dealer council, Sunday after the make meeting. Harper owns Harper's Porsche-Audi-Jaguar-Volkswagen-Infiniti-Acura in Knoxville, Tenn.
Audi will provide some free service during the first year of ownership.
Dealers want Audi to consider a modified program for repeat customers. "It is important to those who have second or third car," said Harper.
There's no doubt some loyal customers may be disappointed, said Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president in charge of the Audi brand.
"There is that danger, I have to acknowledge it," said Audi's U.S. chief.
De Nysschen said Audi needs money to fund a proposed increase in the dealer margin.
You may e-mail Diana T. Kurylko at [email protected]