300 cars a year
The U.S. market will get only 300 R8s this year - 100 more than initially planned, because of demand, says Trahan.
"Dealers say they could sell many more, but we want to keep the car more exclusive," he says.
Trahan admits that Audi can do nothing to keep dealers from marking up the R8 except "strongly recommend" they don't.
The R8 will be sold by only 109 of Audi's 267 dealers. R8 dealers have agreed to devote at least 400 square feet of showroom space, train five employees and invest up to $40,000 for tools and marketing, says Trahan. All dealers were offered the opportunity to sell the R8, he says.
Allocation will be based on dealers' annual sales, says Trahan. An additional 58 dealers who dedicate one technician will be able to service R8s.
Audi will provide dealers with the affidavits for the resale agreement, which will be presented at the time of sale. The program was discussed with the Audi dealer council, which approved it.
Cars for 'end-users'
Joel Weinberger, owner of Continental Audi, of Naperville, Ill., and chairman of the dealer council, says the affidavit was prompted by "our concern about having the cars get into the hands of people who aren't the end-users."
"When you have a car more in demand than supply, you have people who are speculators and try to operate as dealers without a license," Weinberger says. "They buy a car, sell it and can make more profit than we did the first time around."
Weinberger, who has several orders for the R8 but doesn't yet know his allocation, says he will use the forms at his store.
What if a customer says no?
"Dealers have to manage the situation," Weinberger says. "I don't see why it would be a negative unless the buyer is one of those folks who want to flip it and make a profit right away."
A spokesman for Ferrari North America confirmed that the exotic brand makes "a strong recommendation" that its dealers make buyers sign a first-right-of-refusal affidavit. He would not say how many dealers comply.
You may e-mail Diana T. Kurylko at [email protected]