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Buyers willing to wait for the right car: Audi

Pandemic woes have shifted the behaviour of Audi buyers in a more patient direction

1 Mar 2022

WHILE the car world continues to grapple protracted supply issues and general pandemic-induced interruptions to business, an interesting side-effect has emerged: Customers are becoming more patient.


Speaking to GoAuto at last week’s local reveal of the RS e-tron GT, Audi Australia product manager Matthew Dale said buyer behaviour has been reshaped by limitations on dealer stock, with an increasing number of Audi customers instead opting to endure a multi-month wait in order to secure vehicles that are built-to-order.


It is easy to understand why. Supply issues are virtually universal across all brands, so not being able to satisfy a customer’s desire for a Q7 does not necessarily mean they walk down the road to buy a Mercedes GLE instead. Benz is in the same predicament as Audi, after all. 


Rather, dealers are now having more success convincing prospective customers to spec a car exactly to their tastes and to wait for it to be built and shipped.


With desirable models in inventory often commanding significant premiums over retail and used cars presenting especially poor value-for-money in the current market, it appears that buyers who can afford to wait are the ones getting the best deal.


And for brands with high levels of range complexity, the scope for personalisation means customers will often end up with the exact configuration they want, rather than having to compromise on colours and trims, or pay extra for option packages they do not want on a vehicle that is already on a dealer’s forecourt.


Good things come to those who wait – and the strategy of steering customers toward the configurator instead of the stock list may result in happier owners in the long term.


“Being in the premium segment, it offers customers accessibility to other engine variants and options to create something that’s unique to them,” said Mr Dale.


“Part of being premium, as far as we see it, is about giving customers a choice. We’re in a lot of segments and we satisfy a lot of different customers,” added Audi Australia product planner Peter Strudwicke.


With Audi having launched 27 individual new or refreshed models in 2020 and now launching an all-new A3 small car range this quarter, Audi customers have an abundance of models to choose from.


The e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT will crown the range later this year too, heaping some additional battery-powered sparkle on top of that brought by the e-tron SUV and e-tron Sportback SUV – which themselves also recently received boost in the form of hi-po S variants.


Audi’s recent decision to discontinue the Q2 after the current generation runs its course will, however, give a little less choice at the bottom end of Audi’s SUV line-up.


Though Audi CEO Markus Duesmann sees the affordable Q2 as running counter to Audi’s premium brand image, it has nevertheless played an important role in this country as a conquest model, bringing in a younger demographic to the brand and bolstering its presence in the small SUV market – one of the fastest growing segments in Australia. 


At the opposite end of the price spectrum, the e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT will take pride of place as the technology and performance flagships for Audi, though sales will largely hinge on how many vehicles the company’s local office can secure from the Neckarsulm assembly plant that builds them.


Porsche has done a respectable trade in its Taycan and Taycan Cross Turismo, which both utilise the same J1 all-electric architecture as the e-tron GT.


Total Taycan volume for 2021 tallied at 531 cars, though it should be mentioned that this is spread across a broader price spectrum (the Taycan’s price of entry is lower than the Audi’s at $156,300, versus the e-tron GT’s $181,700), and two body styles – the regular Taycan and the jacked-up Taycan Cross Turismo crossover wagon.


As a result, Audi’s pricier two-variant e-tron GT line-up may not have quite the same pull in the showroom as its Porsche cousin.

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