Want style and quality, not flash? Here’s the car for you
It’s unprecedented, but for each of the last 42 months, more Audis have been sold worldwide than the previous month. That has helped make Audi the second best-selling luxury brand. If you ask Audi Chattanooga General Sales Manager Jarrett Caraway, it’s a good start. Caraway expects Audi to take an ever-growing chunk of the luxury car market until it’s number one.
“Audi is a very progressive brand...very focused on technology and very focused on capturing the younger market,” Caraway explains of the German auto maker’s strategy. And he should know. He’s in that target demographic. The 30-something father of five (soon to be six) says his family, like others, are attracted to the advanced features of the Audi line.
“If you get in an Audi when you’re 28 or 29,” Caraway says, “the likelihood of you upgrading to a more expensive, more feature-filled Audi is probably pretty high.” But that premise depends on younger drivers wanting an Audi in the first place. Until recently, that wasn’t a likely scenario. To many car buyers, Audi was rated with more “conservative” brands like Volvo and Saab. Ring up the curtain on “I, Robot”, the Will Smith film from 2004. The movie, set in the future, featured an Audi concept car dubbed the RSQ. The only thing recognizable on the car were the familiar four interlocking rings on the front grill. It was a turning point for the brand. It was not only futuristic—it was Will Smith Cool. Other modified 2004 model A2s, A6s and Tts were used in the film as well.
Caraway says his young son gets amped talking to his friends because he says his dad drives the same kind of car as Iron Man. Yes, the ever-suave, super-rich and super-brainy Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., drives an elegant Audi A8. In fact, the younger Caraway thinks his dad sold Tony Stark his Audi. Kids.
Even more media exposure for the nouveau-cool Audi came in the pages of 2012’s bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey”. “Everybody in that book drives an Audi,” reports Caraway. In fact, the car will probably get lots of screen time in the upcoming movie based on the book, due to be released in February.
But Caraway says you don’t have to be rich and famous like a Will Smith, Robert Downey Jr. or the fictional Christian Grey to drive an Audi. He says the new 2015 A2, the company’s entry-level car, starts out at just $29,900.
A generously equipped model A2 is priced in the mid-30s. Caraway points out that price point is even better than comparable models from Honda and Toyota.
“You can get features like Wi-Fi and 4G navigation, the car will read your Twitter and Facebook feeds to you. You can even get flight information or a tip on a great parking spot from the car,” Caraway boasts. Each model year, the Audi models have more updated technology, but one thing doesn’t change much: the body styles. Many auto makers suffer from sales dips just before a new model year is announced. Buyers fear if they buy this year’s model, next year’s model may look radically different, making it obvious their car is already outdated.
Caraway says that’s not a problem with Audi, noting, “The 2014 A4 is very similar to the 2008,” indicating that buyers of a 2008 model are comfortable in the knowledge their six- or seven-year-old car looks as though it could have come from the showroom yesterday. Caraway adds, “The Q7 has been out for seven model years with no major changes in appearance.” But don’t let longevity of style be confused with stodgy or prosaic. “The cars looked futuristic ten years ago,” says Caraway, “They haven’t changed much of the outer appearance—and they still look futuristic.”
Of course, there’s much more to the car-buying experience than looks. Caraway tells The Pulse that his service department is second to none in its handling of cars brought in for scheduled service or the infrequent repair. The affordable Audi Care service plan takes care of all scheduled maintenance for the first 50,000 miles. And while cars are being serviced, the owner is handed the keys to a brand-new Audi to drive until the service is completed. Tony Stark would love it.