Les
Amoureux
de Audi

Les<br/>Amoureux <br/>de Audi
Audi City Paris offers interactive shopping at a relaxing pace.
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I have to admit something: I’ve never much enjoyed car shopping. That doesn’t make me unique, of course. In fact, a 2015 survey showed that 90 percent of car buyers dread—that’s the word they used—at least some part of the process of purchasing a vehicle.

There are plenty of obvious reasons why people might not like the overall experience—and there are plenty of great dealers who provide a great shopping experience—but we go through it all because, in the end, we still love our cars.

It takes a seismic shift in thinking to know that the European buying process involves a lot more personalization in advance to get the exact model and specs you want. Delivery can take three to six months or more.

It’s to that end—the more leisurely way of shopping—that Audi City Paris was created. Following London, Berlin, Shanghai and Moscow, this one might be the most alluring location for what is functionally a dealership but is also a kind of boutique that fits into a very stylish neighborhood.

Right on the Place du Marché Saint-Honoré, this is a compact, stylish spot ringed by cafes, bistros and restaurants not more than a half-mile north of the incomparable Tuileries Garden in the heart of Paris. Like most things in Paris, this is a story of romance. Instead of grabbing a hand, however, this is about falling in love with an Audi: the one you can create.
THE EASY-GOING ENVIRONMENT
At 3,821 square feet, Audi City is a fraction of the size of the traditional terminal and lot. Audi City uses its small space in innovative, stylish ways. Its first goal is to welcome.

“We embody the Parisian spirit,” said Déborah Barbe, Press Relations Director at Audi France. She was kind enough to meet me at the space. “We welcome you with an espresso. We invite you to sit down in our lounge. You can even read a book while you are here. This isn’t just a place to buy a car, but it’s where people can live and breathe. It’s very Paris to me.”
The books available to read at the Audi Intelligence Lounge underscore the different approach; they are primarily about art, architectures and biographies of innovators. It wasn’t difficult to envision spending a day here, sipping coffee and reading about Bauhaus as a nice respite.
“This isn’t just a place to buy a car, but it’s where people can live and breathe.”
It’s been a successful approach sales-wise, too, especially when you add interactivity to the experience. Barbe said that from its opening in mid-June to mid-September, more than 4,000 people dropped in and engaged products, resulting in “several hundred sales.” Visitors at Audi City have spent more than an hour each browsing the available Audi collection items, looking at the vehicles on display, judging the color swatches for Audi exclusive and configuring vehicles at one of the two touch tables—which broadcast your configured vehicles onto HD megascreens that reach ceiling height and cover 431 square feet of the walls.

These screens also allow for live broadcasts of key races and live events. They even created a 24-hour party for the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans, the last one in which Audi competed.
THE SHARED EXPERIENCE
For those with questions about a certain vehicle or feature, “ambassadors” roam, unobtrusively, near the touch tables ready to help.

“There’s a mix between real life and digital life. We need people, the human, to help give the right information,” said Roman Kauffmann, one of the ambassadors on duty when I was there. Ambassadors help schedule test drives—there’s a fleet of vehicles available at a nearby parking garage—and also help visitors print custom brochures from the vehicles they configured.
“The concept here is definitely self-direction,” he said. “But this is Paris. The experience should also be shared.”

Maybe it was the irresistible setting or the easy-going vibe, but I would be willing to wait three to six months for a unique Audi Q3 that I configured—if car shopping was always this simple and effortless.