A GAP in the prestige car market has been filled with the official opening of Audi New England.
About 150 guests and 10 dignitaries from Audi Australia will attend the event tomorrow night that will unveil the state-of-the art showroom.
The new showroom features a sleek black and white interior fitted out with luxury appointments, including tiles from Italy, chairs and desks from Germany and light fittings from Europe – all pre-approved by the German motor vehicle powerhouse.
Audi New England general manager Jon Dawe said the company approached Tamworth City Prestige owner Jim Thompson a few years ago to gauge his interest in establishing a Tamworth base.
But before building could start at the former East St premises it became apparent there wasn’t enough space to expand.
And coincidentally, around the same time the old Bunnings site on Jewry St came onto the market.
In September 2012 Bunnings saw out its lease and renovations on the multi-franchise dealership began about two months later.
They opened for business on the June long weekend this year and have been putting the finishing touches on the showroom since.
Mr Dawe said the Tamworth market was “very stable” and a prime market area for the new dealership.
“We did our due diligence and found a multi-franchise facility could work,” Mr Dawe said.
He said the trend towards European cars stemmed from greater affordability and accessibility.
The cost of ownership had come down as had the cost of parts, he said, adding factory warranties also gave customers more piece of mind.
Access to the brand has also increased, with more dealerships popping up in rural areas, allowing customers to service their vehicle locally.
Brands such as Suzuki, Peugeot, Ssangyong and Foton, along with a range of used cars and a comprehensive parts and service department – the latter servicing all makes and models – are housed at the massive 17,500sq m site.
And with 4700sq m of the dealership undercover, customers are free to browse a range of cars inside during inclement weather.
According to Mr Dawe and contrary to popular belief, the rain doesn’t keep car buyers away.
“If it’s been dry for a long period and then in rains, enquiries tend to lift,” he said. “It doesn’t deflate our enthusiasm to sell cars ... it works more to our advantage.”
While the dealerships stocks prestige cars, not everything on offer attracts a premium price tag.
“We’ve got a Suzuki Alto from $11,999 up to an Audi R8 Spider for $450,000,” he said.