And it's based on a model that’s about to go out of production, no less.
First there was e-tron, now there is e-commerce. At least that's the order of business at Audi because, by the beginning of next month, the automaker will begin a pilot program designed to allow customers to purchase a vehicle online and avoid having to set foot in a dealership. The program doesn't have a name yet, but Audi's online sales platform will be based on a proprietary model that Audi first used to sell used cars online beginning in 2017.
It's an interesting yet somewhat predictable move for a large automaker like Audi. Cars are unique products that buyers usually want to see in person before purchasing, but companies are also experimenting with new ways to sell to customers, usually taking moves out of the tech industry's playbook. New sales tactics include subscription services, delivery of purchased vehicles or test drive cars to a customer's home or office, and now, online sales.
It stands to be seen whether Audi's online store works for the Volkswagen subsidiary, but the aim is clear: Audi wants to learn more about how customers buy cars using this program. "We are garnering experience and learning a lot about user and buyer structures through this pilot project," said Martin Sander, Vice President Global Marketing and Sales. Still, this doesn't mean dealerships should start panicking about the future. "This much is clear: Online sales is just one pillar of future sales. Bricks-and-mortar retailing continues to be a strong and reliable partner for us even in times of digitalization," said Sander. That doesn't mean that Audi won't try to sweeten the deal for online customers, though.
Kicking off its first online sales will be a special TT Quantum Grey Edition available exclusively to customers buying on the Internet. Limited to just 99 examples, the Audi TT Quantum Grey Edition is more of a visual treat than it is a must-have performance package.
The TT Quantum Grey Edition is set apart from other TTs with the help of a red interior design package as well as a partial matte finish of the "TT" clear coat exterior. To ensure customers get everything they'd expect from an Audi purchase, buyers will be able to use the online marketplace to inquire about leasing or financing, register their vehicles, obtain a license plate, and have their new 245-horsepower all-wheel-drive sports cars delivered to them at the time and place of their choosing.
The catch? Audi's new program (and by extension, the special-edition TT) is only available to customers within the European economic area, with vehicle deliveries taking place only in Germany at this point.
While it's great that Audi is trying to bring car sales into the digital realm, it would be nice if it built a more exciting special edition to sweeten the deal and based it on a car that wasn't about to go out of production. But if the TT Quantum Grey Edition is your cup of tea, be sure to order it in Europe, have the ability to take delivery of it in Germany, and have €62,305 ($69,731 at today's rates) on hand by the time online sales commence on June 5th, 2019.