Audi has become the first premium European carmaker to offer online purchasing of its entire model line-up to Australian customers after coronavirus physical-distancing precautions slashed showroom sales of its cars.
The new service, which is now operational via Audi’s website, offers every step necessary for a remote new car purchase, from the model and specification selection, arranging a home test drive, finance where required, and even delivery to a home or business address.
Customers can search every new vehicle in local dealer stock, a refundable $500 deposit is required to secure the car once found, and all prices are displayed as a driveaway price specific to the state they are searching in.
Its all-new online purchase platform means aspiring Audi customers need not set foot inside a dealership or showroom from start to finish and allowing them to adhere to strict COVID-19 regulations.
“At a time like this, where many Australians would rather make their purchases from the security of their own home, we wanted to create a tailored online solution that allows Audi customers to do just that,” said Audi Australia chief customer and marketing officer Nikki Warburton.
Volkswagen recently offered its customers the same contactless sales option for its entire range, while Audi now follows Genesis and Tesla into the premium-brand online shopping arena. You can expect others to follow too.
It’s clear the physical distancing is starting to hurt Audi’s sales with the latest VFACTs data revealing a 64 percent decline in sales for the month of April compared with the same period in 2019.
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It could always be worse - in India, not a single car sale was reported for the entire month of April, while UK sales have plunged 97 percent.
If what we’re seeing is an online car sales revolution, it was arguably pioneered by Subaru when, in 2012, the Japanese brand announced it would sell the eagerly anticipated BRZ sportscar in a virtual showroom only.
Either way, it seems previously-hesitant Australian brands are reconsidering the move to online purchases; companies like Ford are offering pick-up and drop-off for scheduled services, while Toyota has moved to an online sales model alongside Volkswagen.
As long as the coronavirus restrictions remain in place, the online realm might be the best chance of survival.