NEW ORLEANS -- Audi of America has big plans for the iPads that it started delivering to its U.S. dealers this year, executives said during their make meeting.
The first use of the iPads will be in the showroom. Mark Del Rosso, COO at Audi of America, told Automotive News after the meeting that the iPads will allow a salesperson to quickly give a customer color and wheel options or explain how adaptive cruise control works.
Audi says 80 percent of its U.S. dealers have placed orders for subsidized iPads. Dealerships will also be able to run Audi's apps on iPads that they already own.
But this is just the beginning, Del Rosso says; parts and service are next.
"The network has responded beyond our wildest dreams," Del Rosso said. "They see the value in it."
Michelle Primm, dealer principal at Cascade Auto Group in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, said all the Audi dealers she has spoken with are getting ready to deploy iPads in their showrooms. She said the brand has taken a well-thought-out approach to make sure the iPad rollout succeeds.
"They're not the first one to do it, but they did it right," Primm said.
Other dealers interviewed outside the make meeting said there were no surprises. Audi executives offered no hints about new models or changes in marketing plan.
"The message is consistent," said Steve Germain, CEO of Germain Motor Co. in Columbus, Ohio.
During the meeting, executives put an emphasis on the new A3 sedan, which will compete with an emerging segment of small luxury cars -- including the archrival Mercedes-Benz CLA. Audi executives outlined a different strategy to dealers for selling that car, which is expected to draw a younger-than-average buyer who might otherwise buy a car from a mass-market brand.
Audi of America President Scott Keogh told Automotive News the arrival of the A3 this spring is one reason that the morale among Audi dealers is "very, very high."
"We've been waiting five, six years for this moment," he said as he left the meeting. "And now it's here."