New Audi sales in China: looking offline, buying online
Looking at the new Audi A7L in the shopping mall first, then in the neighboring showroom: Audi calls the new marketing format in China the “urban showroom.” Right next door to, for instance, shops in the fashion and lifestyle industry. That means right where potential customers spend their free time anyway.
“The new retail format puts customers at the center. With its inviting and integrative boutique-style design, not only are our products prominently staged in SAIC Audi’s urban showrooms, but numerous customer-oriented complete solutions are also on offer.” That is how Horst Hanschur, head of Retail Business Development and Customer Services at Audi, explains the new approach to sales with our Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corporation. What that means is that, while the emotional design of the urban showroom establishes a link to the brand, individual customer consulting brings the car closer and resolves open questions.
Finally, anyone who is interested can order the car at home using the SAIC Audi app and then pick it up later at the shopping mall in the “Audi Box,” which was designed for that specific purpose and is used as the start and end point for test drives. Test drives, delivery, and necessary visits to the workshop are also available door-to-door – including directly to the customer’s front door.
Urban showrooms: SAIC Audi with a new marketing strategy
SAIC Audi is planning 200 showrooms of this kind in over 80 Chinese cities. Six have opened recently in Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Qingdao, Nanjing, and Linyi. The innovative sales and trading network between offline customer experience (urban showroom) and online sales (SAIC Audi app) is part of an Audi product and sales offensive in the Far East. This also includes the new partnership with SAIC Motor Corporation.
“Together with our long-time partner FAW, we have successfully established our business in China over three decades. Together with FAW and our second cooperation partner SAIC, we are now starting a new phase of growth,” explains Werner Eichhorn, President of Audi China. The fact that more than 1,000 customers have already used the app to reserve the Audi A7L, the first car sold through the cooperation with SAIC, emphasizes the importance of this growth strategy in the Chinese market and the new sales solutions.
Audi A7L – a sedan developed specifically for China
Under the rubric of “In China, for China,” the Audi A7L was developed as a trailblazer for SAIC Audi’s engagement in the premium market – amid close observation of on-site trends and user desires. Reserved for the Chinese market, it combines the sporty genes of the A7 Sportback, with its typical elegance and the comfort of a large sedan with an extended wheelbase. Innovative technologies like adaptive air suspension, dynamic all-wheel steering, and the constant all-wheel drive quattro are as much a part of the Audi A7L’s offering as the interior equipment packages that are available exclusively for the A7. Additionally, the extended wheelbase also gives it more interior space. “The positioning of the Audi A7L and its equipment are perfectly attuned to the needs of customers in one of Audi’s most important markets,” says Thorsten Godulla, President of Sales and Marketing at SAIC Audi. He is convinced of the A7L’s success, the price of which starts at around € 80,000 (599,700 yuan).
This sedan is the very first Audi of any kind manufactured by SAIC Volkswagen (SVW) at its Anting factory in Shanghai, where it has been produced since September 2021. During the Corona pandemic, Audi employees from Neckarsulm have supported the production ramp-up via a digital training concept that was created specifically for them: More than 250 colleagues from SVW were trained that way in the fields of quality assurance, logistics, the pressing plant, body construction, and post-treatment using Microsoft Teams. The basis for that was a training center with high-resolution webcams, extra lighting, and real exhibits like laser scanners or mild-hybrid components.
Digital sales, digital car: A7L with 5G/C-V2X module
The production startup is not the only thing that is digital: the Audi A7L itself is too. It and the Audi A6L are the first models produced by the brand with the four rings that will take to the road with an integrated 5G/C-V2X wireless module. These two wireless technologies make driving significantly safer: while cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) directly connects road users and infrastructure in the immediate vicinity in real time, 5G technology makes it possible to connect vehicles that are not directly within range with each other. In the event of an emergency stop, for example, the vehicles directly behind are warned immediately via C-V2X in order to prevent a rear-end collision. If a vehicle breaks down due to an accident or mechanical issue, the system automatically sends a warning to all Audi vehicles via C-V2X and 5G – and, in the future, to all other vehicles on the road regardless of the manufacturer. The 5G/C-V2X module is also a technological stepping stone to many more possibilities. The direct wireless connection can also be helpful for cooperative driving, for instance when passing, merging, and starting at traffic lights, when cars have to autonomously synchronize with one another. The Audi A7L and A6L are the kickoff. Other models with integrated 5G/C-V2X wireless modules and markets will likely follow in 2023.