Why selling limousines in a recession makes sense for Audi
There are probably to vitally important dates in a parent's life, the birth of their first child and the marriage of their first-born, especially if it's a Dad writing this road test, and the wedding is his only child - and a daughter at that.
This has recently happened to me, my one and only daughter was getting married abroad, suddenly plans change due to no wedding date available in the chosen hotel in the Dominican Republic.
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All change and quickly, wedding in the UK, a month to get it all sorted, venue, guest invitations, menus, flowers, outfits, transport - yes transport - now that is something I can do.
Being a motoring journalist high on my to-do agenda was a suitable car for all the 'Daddy taxi duties'. My own cars and the various other test cars due at the time were not big and perhaps not prestigious enough to serve my purpose.
Drive forward Audi UK and with their usual efficiency they spirited up an A8 3.0 TDI quattro SE Executive limousine, not their long wheelbase model but the standard length version which still looks impressive with huge road presence. I always look upon long wheelbase models as the car for those who like to be chauffeured around. The standard length is for executives who like to drive themselves.
Limousines, also known as luxury cars, are by their very nature expensive vehicles but there is no shortage of buyers even in today's economic climate. Last year 8,647 luxury cars were sold in the UK, a rise of 6.2 per cent over 2010.
Those with money will usually always have money and seem better cushioned to cope with a recession. Important people and high profile businesses look upon limousines or luxury cars as essential transport.
Audi UK knows this and very astutely have worked hard and spent a lot of their Marketing and PR budget getting the A8 and their Audi brand a high profile with the right people. This of course has led in part to their huge sales surge again last year with another all-time record of 113,797 registrations in 2011, a 14 per cent increase over 2010.
Audi has a fleet of chauffeur driven A8s for VIP use and more often than not when a celebrity appears at a 'red carpet' event they will be getting out of, or in to, an A8. VIPs obviously like what they see so no wonder the A8 and other Audi models seem to appeal to famous affluent buyers and by the 'me too' association to the wealthy but not so famous.
The A8 competes with main rivals such as the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Jaguar XJ, plus models from Bentley, Rolls Royce and others. It might be a small market segment but I have counted up 14 different model ranges that compete for UK sales in the luxury segment.
In 2011 the Jaguar XJ accounted for 23.3 per cent of the UK sector sales, the S-Class 19.7 per cent, the 7 Series 17 per cent, the A8 15.8 per cent and the Bentley 10.2 per cent. Just under 70 per cent of all cars sold in this sector were diesel powered.
I guess - as with other limousines in the sector - if the Boss is happy and impressed with their executive A8 there is a chance their staff might find their way into other Audis as company or family cars.
Just look at Prince Charles and his family.