Audi City Wimbledon: digital, remastered

  09 February 2020

Audi City

There are several hundred million different possible permutations of Audi models on offer today. A vast model range, multitude of engines and dozens of colours, trims and options mean it’s easy for buyers to be overwhelmed – and perhaps give up entirely on choosing high-margin features through buyer fatigue.

This is what the new Audi City concept aims to address. In association with Marshall, the UK’s first site, Audi City Wimbledon, recently opened, aiming to offer a digital-focused alternative to a regular Audi Centre.

The Kingston Road site has a couple of cars indoors, but the main focus is on virtual reality tech – namely, a brace of four 3D configurators, HD tablets and virtual reality headsets.

With the help of Audi City staff (and a promise that “there will never be any pressure to buy”), customers can configure to their heart’s content. If they still can’t decide, they can scan a QR code with their smartphone and carry on with the personalisation later.

If they’re eager to go further, Customer Private Lounges are on hand for a deeper dive. These are like mini studios, with more VR headsets, fabric, leather and paint samples, and the help of an Audi Consultant to help complete an order if they so wish.

Reading about it, I couldn’t help but think of Ferrari’s Atelier service. This is a personalised and highly bespoke service used to tailor-make new Ferraris. Audi City is, with the help of digitisation, an example of how a premium brand is offering luxury-like individualisation.

Audi UK director Andrew Doyle said the opening was “not just a launch of another site, but rather an entirely new design concept… this facility offers a truly modern and technologically focused environment for our guests”.

But haven’t we been here before? In 2018, Audi City Mayfair closed down, after five years. At the time, the brand said it would focus on “new ways to integrate digital experiences into all UK showrooms”. It will be interesting to see how Audi City Wimbledon differs to the Mayfair outlet, and what lessons Audi has integrated into the new development.

What it does suggest is that, despite digital tools allowing customers to do ever more online themselves, sprawling model ranges mean there’s still a need for brand experience centres and hands-on help from trained professionals.

Marshall Motor Group clearly agrees: Mr Doyle made a point of thanking it for “your investment and continued passion for the Audi brand”. Daksh Gupta said the new development is a “great partnership between our two businesses”.

Time to see what the newly remastered Audi City concept brings to the network – and whether it’s a digital idea others will be copying.

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