German luxury car brand Audi is hoping to regain its presence in the Thai market by providing competitive retail pricing for imported models against locally-assembled models offered by rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Sales of Audi vehicles in Thailand has dropped to less than 100 units per year during the last three years, a sharp decline compared to the 1,500 units it sold in 1996 for a 12-per cent share in the luxury car market.
Apasra Pradipasena, general manager of the official Audi importer and distributor German Motor Work Co Ltd, said although Audi has a strong cult following in Thailand by technology-conscious customers, the high retail pricing has affected sales in recent years.
However, the company has struck a deal with Audi AG, which is now offering financial support for retail pricing.
For example the brand’s most popular model in the Thai market is the Q5, which has been priced at Bt3.89 million for the 2.0-litre petrol version. Recently a diesel version has been introduced, and carries a much lower price tag of Bt3.199 million, she said. Meanwhile, price of the Q7 3.0 TDI had dropped from Bt6.85 million to Bt5.99 million, and a 2.0-litre diesel version of the A4 has been introduced with a price of Bt2.55 million, down from Bt2.69 million for the 1.8-litre petrol version.
“We have also added the A3 Limousine to our product line-up as the entry-level model and is priced at Bt1.99 million, which is at the same level as the BMW 1 Series and the Mercedes-Benz CLA despite being imported from Germany while the competition is locally-assembled,” she said.
Apasra hopes that Audi sales in Thailand will rise to 200 units next year, thanks to the new pricing policy as well as introduction of new models such as the popular TT Coupe, which will be out early next year. In three years sales are expected to grow to 500-600 units, she said.
The company is also spending Bt60-70 million to build a second showroom in Bangkok on Tiam Ruammitr Road, which would feature the “Audi Terminal” concept. Currently, Audi has only one outlet and service centre, located in the Rama 9 area.
“The new showroom will feature honeycomb exterior styling and human-friendly features, including a see-through service area,” Apasra said.
Despite reports that Volkswagen AG, the owner of the Audi brand, plans to set up an assembly plant in Thailand to produce eco cars, Apasra shrugged off such a possibility.
“We have no plans to assemble cars here and will be offering imported models at highly competitive prices,” she said.
Meanwhile, Tunyanon Leenutaphong, executive director at German Motor Work, said the company will take part in more marketing activities in order to boost its brand presence.
It recently joined hands with Siam Paragon and took part in the World Fashion Showcase 2014 event on September 24-25.
“In the long term we would continuously organise various marketing activities to boost target customers’ access to Audi. This strategic change would hopefully yield a good feedback during the final quarter of this year and in the future,” she said.