Audi is the most recent local importer to come under the spotlight in our series of "Questions to the industry". Due to the flood of questions and comments received, Wheels24 was also for the first time required to extend the usual list of five questions to seven.
Here's what Audi had to say in response to the list compiled by Wheels24. What do you think?
Why are the trade-in values offered by Audi dealers for well-maintained used models so low? What is Audi doing to ensure customer satisfaction?
Audi of South Africa has done a lot to improve the resale value of its cars across all market sectors. In fact we now have the most comprehensive pre-owned offer in the market with all Pre-Owned Audi's having a 40 000km / 2 Year Maintenance plan as standard. A quick glance at the TransUnion Auto Dealers Guide (previously known as the M&M guide) on resale values clearly shows that Audi cars are in line with its key competitors, and in many cases even above.
This is confirmed by a direct comment from TransUnion:
?Residual values of Audi cars, as reflected in our Guides calculated from market returns, have indeed improved over the past two to three years and newer model Audis are indeed faring better than their predecessors and are comparable to their key competitors?.
Cars like the RS 4, Q7, new TT and Sportback remain in such demand that most customers are able to sell these cars at the same or even above what was paid when they were purchased as new.
Several readers commented on long waiting periods for routine servicing and repairs, while there seems to be a lack of knowledgeable technicians at some dealerships with sliding levels of service as a result. Has Audi reached its capacity to attend to current demand at certain dealerships?
Long waiting periods are unfortunate and some dealers do have a capacity problem. We are currently investing, along with our dealers, in improved facilities to cope with the demand. New technology, which allow for the car to "self-diagnose" what is needed before service, reduces fault finding time significantly.
In the latest Synovate CCSI (Customer Satisfaction Survey), Audi ranks above all of its core competitors.
Audi of South Africa invests a substantial amount in the training of our technicians to ensure that they fix problems right first time round. However, there is always room for improvement and this remains a key focus area.
Several readers have also noticed a tendency to omit standard features - like a 60/40 split rear bench, multifunction steering wheel, auto dimming rearview mirrors, courtesy lamps in the door - that are expected on luxury vehicles. Is this a ploy to keep prices on newer models low?
We do not sell cars in isolation. As such, we benchmark our cars? specification to those of our direct competition. For example, the specification on an A4 more or less follows that of the direct competition. However, our cars do offer several specification advantages. Looking at the A4 again, it offers a rain and light sensor across the range, auto dimming rear view mirror, multi-function steering wheel and full climate control - BMW, for example, offer these as options on most models in the 3-Series range.
With reference to the Haldex system used in certain models, is it not misleading to refer to these models as quattro when, unlike the Torsen system, it does not use full-time all-wheel drive, but is rather a front-wheel drive system with all-wheel drive "when required"?
The Haldex quattro systems is used in our cars with transversely mounted engines - that would be the A3 and TT. This system is permanently four-wheel driven but with the bulk of the power going to the front wheels in normal situations. In extreme handling situations, up to 100% of the power can be directed to any axle.
It is more compact and thus better suited to our more compact cars. It has all the advantages of all-wheel drive and it is certainly not a misleading claim.
What is the likelihood of seeing a Sportback S3? When can the Q5 be expected in South Africa? Considering the failure of the A2 in Europe and the recent confirmation of A1 for 2009, do you think there is a market in South Africa for a model to slot beneath the A3?
Currently, the S3 will remain a 3-door model. The Q5 will have its international release during 2008 and we will introduce the vehicle once right-hand drive models become available - roughly the same time as introduction to the UK market.
The A2 was not a failure. More than 400 000 units were sold in its life cycle. We certainly see a market for more affordable Audi models but we would have to investigate the possibility of introducing such a car at affordable levels.
Will we see the new 1.8 T FSI engine in South Africa? When can we see a more powerful version of the TT powered by the new 3.6 V6?
Yes, the 1.8T FSI engine will come to South Africa. However, we are awaiting EU4 emissions release for our market before introduction can happen. As such, we do not have a definite time for this car's release.
The new TT will see several more models in the future. There will be a more powerful version of the TT although it will not have the 3.6 FSI V6 engine. Unfortunately, we cannot provide any more information on this.
What does Audi stand for?
Perhaps we should just give a short history of how Audi came about. It was formed from four post-War German automotive companies - these being Auto Union, Horch, DKW and Audi. The four ring logo is derived as a symbol of these four companies joining together.
Today Audi stands for "Vorsprung durch Technik". This means being brave and pioneering, sporty and sophisticated, offering the highest quality and latest technology.
For our Audi fans, be prepared for a complete and vast new model onslaught before 2015. This will see the brand compete in many new segments.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your reader' questions.