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Sun 15 Apr 2012 08:26 AM

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Audi to spend US$204m on new MidEast showrooms

German car maker plans seven new outlets for UAE, Oman, Iraq and Lebanon

Audi to spend US$204m on new MidEast showrooms

European car maker Audi has announced plans to splash AED750m (US$204m) on luxury showrooms around the Middle East, with seven new facilities planned between now and 2015.

The company, which is launching its latest model, the Audi Q4, this month, said it delivered more cars than ever before in the region last year, growing by 26 percent on 2010.

“The Middle East is a real focus for us,” said Jeff Mannering, regional CEO of the Germany-based firm. “We were the fastest growing premium brand in the region last year.

“We’re investing AED200m in three new showrooms in the UAE, and we also have plans for Oman, Iraq, Lebanon and Abu Dhabi.”

In line with Audi’s global 2020 plan, the car maker plans to replace its existing ‘hanger’ facilities with new ‘terminal’ buildings - creating “a new look and feel for Audi worldwide”.

The terminals, each based on an entirely different design, will provide a more luxurious and hotel-like atmosphere for buyers, featuring valet parking and exclusive floors.

The company’s flagship Middle East showroom will be located on highway Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, with construction ongoing and a scheduled opening date of early November.

With room for 57 new cars, the facility will be the first multi-storey new car showroom in the UAE, and Audi’s biggest showroom in the world.

The facility will also a feature new technology known as a 'power wall', which allows buyers to configure their car on screen and see a life-size version of the vehicle projected on to a wall.

“The showroom even has a road through it,” said Mannering. “I don’t think there are many showrooms which have a road going through them.”

Other new facilities will include a Fujairah showroom and service centre, due to open within the next ten weeks, in addition to a slightly bigger complex in Sharjah and a new service facility in the Al Quoz district of Dubai.

Al Naboodah Automobiles, Audi’s local partner in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, said it will recruit more than 100 new employees for the additional branches.

The other regional facilities are also due to be completed in the near future.

“The Abu Dhabi showroom will start [by the] end of this year or early next year, and will be finished half way through 2014, hopefully a bit earlier,” said Mannering.

“In Oman it will start probably half way through next year and take about 18 months to complete. In Iraq we’re building the same concept in Kurdistan, so that will be finished by the end of 2013. In Lebanon... they are planning a high rise terminal concept. It should be completed by end of 2014 or early 2015.”

Audi, which employs more than 50,000 people worldwide, sold 1.3m cars globally in 2011, and completed the construction of 265 new terminal showrooms, including a facility in Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia.

On a global basis the company delivered 143,500 vehicles in March, its biggest sales month in company history.

Mannering said in 2012 the firm is planning to complete an additional 153 terminals worldwide, and aiming to sell 10,000 cars in the Middle East alone.

“I want to sell 10,000 cars this year, so that would be another 16-17 percent growth for us over last year.

“In a couple of weeks, the new Audi Q3 will be in the showrooms, and after summer, we have some really exciting cars coming.”

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Audi driver 6 years ago

They should better spend some money on a workshop in Dubai. It takes weeks before you get an appointment.