Article by Shu Shu
Newcomers in the automobile industry are emerging one after another, creating a crisis of middle age for the Audi brand in the past two years. However, SAIC Audi can break through this situation for a simple reason.
First, SAIC Audi officially appeared in Volkswagen’s vision only on April 18th last year, so this young man born at the forefront of the times is only a year and a half old.
Second, I attended Audi’s event in Sanya last week. Through the event and interview, they have a plan in mind and a path to follow, preparing to step into the ranks of newcomers.
SAIC Audi: Between Urgency and Non-Urgency
Currently, SAIC Audi is facing considerable pressure, and the outside world has always been scrutinizing it.
In terms of sales, SAIC Audi’s cumulative sales in the first three quarters of this year are only 4190 vehicles. Of these, Audi A7L sold 2908 vehicles, and the pure electric model Audi Q5 e-tron sold 1145 vehicles. The sales of the Audi Q6 have not yet been compared, as it only sold 41 vehicles in its first month on the market.
Poor sales are an obstacle that SAIC Audi needs to overcome. This issue is also the first one raised by Dr. Jia Mingdi, the Chief Marketing Officer of SAIC Audi, and Mr. Gao Dele, the General Manager of Marketing.
Dr. Jia Mingdi candidly admitted that he recognizes the unsatisfactory sales, but SAIC Audi is not a brand that merely targets the number of cars sold.
If they merely replicated the sales of an Audi model, then how many cars would they need to be considered a successful brand? Dr. Jia stated that he had experience of twice achieving two million cars in four consecutive years. If he only wanted to pursue sales, he could directly put the car on sale and offer discounts at a 4S shop, but it is clear that he and SAIC Audi do not think that way about the future.
It is harder to adhere to a particular path than to avoid it altogether─ this is the philosophy of choice.
SAIC Audi chooses not to follow the traditional path of old automobile companies; this is a kind of choice. If we look at SAIC Audi’s sales from the perspective of a new brand, it seems reasonable.“`
Of course, pursuing ideals without considering basic needs is impossible, just like the lovechild of SAIC and Audi, we still need to take the issue of basic needs seriously when we are asked how to actively monetize the expanding brand reputation. Jia Mingdi’s answer is:
“I can’t say that there’s no urgency, but we can’t be too hasty.”
These three sentences can each explain SAIC Audi’s explanation of their current and future directions.
The first sentence, “I can’t say that there’s no urgency”.
SAIC Audi has spent five years developing a car with an upper limit. The three car models that have been released within a year and a half, A7L, Q6 and Q5 e-tron, are all models that aim to explore new terrain. As for the mission that SAIC Audi insists upon, it is just as firm as it was originally – producing innovative products and creating innovative marketing models.
Once innovation and exploration are linked together, we can’t be too hasty in what we say. Hasty actions won’t work since SAIC Audi wants to delicately fashion a white jade bean curd feast.
The second sentence, “but we can’t be too hasty in our hearts”.
I’ve never seen a child who has learned to walk who doesn’t want to run. SAIC Audi is the same.
Having already laid out their plans and made arrangements for the car models, what SAIC Audi needs to do next is to continue the high-end car positioning and learn from new rising forces who have done well in this area. Then, according to their ideal innovative marketing model, they can gradually achieve their goals from 0 to 1, from 1 to 100, 1000, and even higher.
The third sentence, “but we can’t be too hasty again”. This is SAIC Audi’s harsh reality right now.
This is the most unfriendly period for ABB, where new energy car companies are rising rapidly, the market share of independent brands is increasing, and emotions and beliefs are becoming lighter in the face of rapid intelligent iterations. The era where a car lasts for generations and simply saying “I’m Audi” can convince people to place an order is gone forever. It’s useless to be hasty if you want to persuade people to pay. This is the same as looking for a partner.
At least in the luxury car market, no one is on the new path that SAIC Audi is currently taking. They have already made a radical change of fate and just want to exchange new car models and marketing models for long-term implications for the future.
“I think the innovative products and marketing strategies of SAIC Audi are a breakthrough,” said Jia Mingdi in several interviews.
Do the Right Thing and Do It Right
The first product of SAIC Audi brand was the Audi A7L, as mentioned earlier, which naturally integrated various reasons, such as the epidemic situation. There is no way out. The SAIC Group, located in Shanghai, suffered from an unbearable burden as any other company in Shanghai.
However, returning to the product itself, as a luxury flagship model and inspired by “Prologue” to restore the sport flagship configuration, it is positioned as a C+ level performance executive car, and is undoubtedly a new height for Audi brand’s domestically produced luxury cars.
The second model is the Q5 e-tron, also SAIC Audi’s first new energy product. It also occupies a high position in the sub-segment market of luxury brand pure electric SUVs, and it’s not so common in its class to focus on mileage and multiple seats. SAIC Audi laid the foundation for Q5 e-tron early on in this soil that has not yet been occupied.
The third model is the protagonist of this event, the Audi Q6. Initially, when selecting the model, SAIC Audi was very sure that it needed to position a product between the Audi Q5 and Audi Q7. Given that the competitor’s X5 team was to be localized, they considered directly localizing Q7. After many investigations, however, SAIC Audi came up with an ideal positioning for the model, which is two-thirds higher than Q5 and one-third lower than Q7.
Like its two brothers before, the Audi Q6 appeared as a ceiling presence in the sub-segment market. To find a brand with a similar positioning in the luxury market, only BMW X5 is available, but X5 is even more expensive and only has five seats, which cannot meet the needs of more family members for travel.“`
The Audi Q6 has recently been launched, and its sales performance cannot be used as a reference value for the time being. There are positive and negative opinions about it on the Internet.
Regarding the positive aspects, during the test drive, I experienced it all. As Audi’s largest SUV and the only 6/7-seater model with aviation-grade executive seats available under the Audi brand, the driving experience is indeed remarkable. Audi’s professional technical team in Germany spent five years creating this model from various aspects including technology, tuning, material selection, and materials. It is high-end, comfortable, and brings a feeling of “land aircraft.” This is my memory of a brief encounter with the Audi Q6 on a coastal road.
Regarding the negative aspects, the biggest issue is about the platform choice. The Audi Q7 and the Audi Q5L are both based on the MLB platform, while the Q6 and Touran are based on the MQB platform, which lead to some configurations being nearly identical to those of the Touran, making the Q6 a “Touran with a new shell,” thus criticized by netizens.
In an interview, Ji Mingdi did not avoid the issue and directly explained the related problems. As for the platform choice, the initial reason was that Audi’s existing platform could not achieve such a large size. The longitudinal engine configuration led to insufficient interior space, even if the wheelbase was very long. Therefore, even though the wheelbase of the Q7 is very long, the third-row space still did not meet their expectations. They hoped that the third row of the Audi Q6 would be a real third row, and the Volkswagen platform can achieve this.
It can be said with confidence that from the perspective of real experience, the third row of the Audi Q6 is indeed superior to that of the Audi Q7. They really hope to bring a flagship model that lives up to every product point.
With the sedan ceiling, electric ceiling, and SUV ceiling, three ceilings have been built. Ji Mingdi also revealed that “if SAIC Audi’s new product layout goes further, it will enter a mainstream market space.”
The all-new products converged under the spotlight, backed by a new marketing model that provided a more extensive stage for its performance. Even luxury brands have sought marketing transformation, and SAIC Audi wants to lead this step.
When SAIC Audi launched its brand last year, it expressed its operating mode very clearly. Firstly, the channel mode will introduce the “agency system” and use “city showrooms,” including the Enterprising Alliance, Audi City, Audi Urbanspace, and Enterprising City pop-up stores. The four models are used as SAIC Audi’s offline entities to get closer to users, and each model represents the ecological circle, business circle, life circle, and social circle in SAIC Audi’s new retail.
The other is to create an ecosystem based on the APP, which is the first in the traditional luxury brand. The owner of the first Audi Q6 delivered nationally is directly connected to SAIC Audi’s service personnel through the APP.
Jia Mingdi also said that he would go online to the community to contact users. One of the most profound feelings brought to him is that he even knows why each user bought an SAIC Audi car, which competitors they considered at the time of purchase, and what finally prompted users to make such a decision. This is very rare in Jia Mingdi’s previous career.
Gao Dele also shared that in the past 13 months, SAIC Audi has opened 90 stores in China with three new models and a digitalized ecological system, including online and offline journeys, which are important achievements in SAIC Audi’s view. The arrival of Q6 will also be an important new milestone for SAIC Audi in the future.
In the Q6 delivery ceremony that evening, people were surprised to find that SAIC Audi’s user group really broke through some traditional brand inherent circles. Among these people who received the car keys, some were hardworking entrepreneurs, some were engineers in technical positions, and some were middle-level managers. A Q6 key really connected high-net-worth consumers, the middle class, and young new consumerists on this day.
It could have lived more peacefully, comfortably, and decently than it is now, but young people always want to change the world and write their own overture.
Hopefully, SAIC Audi can achieve this.
This is a table of car brands.
Most Popular Car Brands
These car models are very popular in the international market.
Here are pictures of BMW and Mercedes-Benz:
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.