Supplied photo courtesy of Audi Cape Fear
Audi Cape Fear opened at 255 Old Eastwood Road in late November 2013 and is the first Audi dealership ever in the Wilmington market.
Audi Cape Fear general manager Bill Bowen said the Wilmington market should not let the new dealership’s flashy building distract, because the full line of Audi cars in stock is the main focus.
“I think Wilmington was ready for another luxury car brand,” Bowen said. “Mercedes and BMW have been here for a number of years and the market will certainly support another franchise. Audi is something new, different and unique in the market.”
After owner AJ Aliah opened the dealership at 255 Old Eastwood Road in late November 2013, Bowen said the response has been positive from the Wilmington market.
“We knew it was going to be good, because it is a great product and it takes care of itself,” he said. “It has been surprising with the amount of interest in the car, much more so than we originally thought.”
Across the United States the highest selling Audi model is the Q5, a midsize SUV, and while the same has been true for Audi Cape Fear, Bowen said the dealership has seen much more balanced sales across the line.
“It is our No. 1 volume seller here but in other markets it can literally be as much as 70 percent of the sales,” he said. “There is not a model we have not sold yet with the exception of the R8.”
The 430-horse power silver Audi R8 in stock, with a retail value of around $150,000, has been a common photo opportunity for the dealership’s customers, Bowen said. Not all Audi dealerships are allowed to carry the R8, Bowen said, adding that it must have a certified Audi Master Technician on staff like Audi Cape Fear’s Tim Cicchinelli.
With a longtime BMW and Mercedes presence in the Cape Fear, Bowen said he thinks those in the market for a luxury car will find an exciting alternative in Audi.
“Everybody makes a great car now, but there is something exciting about Audi because it has three things going for it … styling, performance and technology,” he said. “[BMW and Mercedes] are great cars … but there is a discernable difference in our brand.”
In addition to the cars, Bowen said the new dealership’s architecture has drawn a significant amount of attention as well. With steel siding, angular features and large windows, Bowen said the design is a terminal concept Audi is now using for its dealerships.
While his team has not had any issue attracting customers with the cars and dealership’s architecture, Bowen said Aliah came up with the idea to leave the headlights on the cars fronting the Eastwood Road and Racine Drive intersection.
“One of the things Audi is known for is the first to have the LED headlights so it is something associated with Audi and it just creates some awareness that we are here,” Bowen said. “Every day we have someone come in here to tell us that the lights were on last night.”