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Pirelli partners with Audi as aftermarket supplier

Frost bite: Audi's all-new Q7 will be fitted exclusively with Pirelli rubber, including the Scorpion snow tyres it wears at the Mount Hotham Snow Driving Experience.

Audi selects Pirelli as official dealer-wide replacement tyre brand

General News logo4 Sep 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

AUDI has officially recognised Italian high-performance tyre-maker Pirelli as its preferred replacement tyre brand across the nationwide network of 50-plus dealerships.

The agreement was trialled in a pilot program that ran in selected dealerships around the country late last year, but after a positive response from the participating dealers and customers alike, the supply arrangement has been rolled out to the remaining Audi service centres.

As was the case before the agreement, customers are free to choose from a range of tyre brands at their local Audi dealership, but the deal now means that Pirelli's products are the only tyres to appear in Audi's own national spares network listing.

Speaking at the launch of Audi's Snow Driving Experience at Mount Hotham, Pirelli Tyres Australia managing director Andrea Clerici explained to GoAuto the benefit of the partnership for Audi customers.

“We develop specific tyres which are marked with AO or RO for Audi or quattro,” he said. “These letters specify that this product has been specifically designed for Audi.

“This means there is something in the compound, something in the construction or the tread pattern that makes it particularly suitable for that car.” While other competing brands may produce products of similar quality, only Pirelli can offer Audi-endorsed replacement tailored rubber with tyre-wall markings that prove its suitability for a specific model.

Mr Clerici said that the supply agreement would ensure Pirelli continues to produce tyres tailored for Audi products, by encouraging customers to continue buying the technology that was developed for their car.

“From the A1 through the R8, we are homologated and we supply original equipment tyres to virtually every Audi car, so we think it is extremely important to have a strong OEM relationship. It allows and forces us to develop tailor-made tyres for Audi.

“We are providing a better service to the consumer because we are providing a genuine part that is preserving the integrity, development and specification of the car. The car remains the same as it was designed to be.” Pirelli Tyres Australia marketing manager Alessio Puricelli explained the stringent process that tyre manufacturers must go through to win the product endorsement that it had successfully secured with Audi.

“Every time a manufacturer is planning a new car they issue a tender and every brand can participate,” he said. “For a particular size, a manufacturer may focus on comfort or more sportiness or mileage. The car-maker will see who best meets the requirements. The final tyre is marked with the specific labeling.

“It was started by Porsche more than 20 years ago and has been extended now to Audi, Mercedes etc. When you buy a replacement tyre you can see that this was the tyre that was requested by Audi to fit on this car.” Mr Puricelli said that the partnership was an important function in retaining customers and gave loyal Audi owners one less reason to take their vehicle somewhere other than an official dealership.

“It is getting more popular because dealerships are recognising how important tyres are. If your customer is having their tyres changed at a tyre shop then the chances are they will have an oil change, maybe have a look at the engine. This is a good chance for dealers to keep everything in house.

“I think these programs, abroad, are much more common. In Australia they are getting more popular. Each brand is selecting their partners. We are also working on the Volkswagen Group.” Despite the new closer relationship between the two global giants, it is unlikely customers will see Pirelli branding in their local dealership, with the iconic black, red and yellow confined to select co-branded lifestyle merchandise as seen in the P Zero range.

“There will be co-branding. Audi is very protective of their image so they are very cautious of any other brands that are customer-facing, but we have already developed some fashion lines with them.

“Globally this partnership is getting stronger and stronger. You probably won’t see a big Pirelli banner in dealerships but you'll see more and more collaborations.” For the foreseeable future, Audi's new Q7 large SUV will be sold exclusively wearing Pirelli rubber. The tyre-maker is also the supplier of Scorpion snow tyres for the Snow Driving Experience at Mount Hotham this week as well as other Audi events around the country.

“We are supporting Audi for their drive days and main events so whenever there is something we can come into play, we try to support,” said Mr Clerici.

“...but this year, the big news is that we have officially started a commercial agreement, so that Pirelli is the officially recognised brand within Audi dealerships for replacement tyres.”

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