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Hannu Mikkola to drive Audi

In message <199709270542.WAA61932@rho.ben2.ucla.edu> Michael Williams writes:

> Is there any chance of Audi re-entering rally?  That would be the most 
> awesome thing i could think of, screw Formula 1, hehe....

This was one of s eries of related questions that we asked Len Hunt a week or 
two ago.

His answers to all of the questions were quite enlightening.  Audi is following 
a long-term marketing programme 'chasing' BMW and Daimler-Benz.  In the first 
instance, Audi's research showed them (this is a few years ago) that they had a 
good sporting reputation from being rally champions, but that amazingly a lot 
of the market didn't realise Audi was a German company.  Research showed that 
they could get a free ride on the 'German quality' bandwagon if only they could 
get people to realise they were a German company.  This was the reason for the 
explicit use of a German phrase ("'Vorsprung durch Technik', as they say in 
Germany") in Audi's global advertising.

The second problem they decided to tackle was resale value.  Even before the 
'unintended acceleration' farce, Audis had worse RVs than BMWs - for no very 
good reason.  To do this, they went the whole hog and gazed upon their navels.  
The marketing-speak gets pretty heavy here, but basically they decided to 
associate the Audi brand and the other VAG brands with different sets of 'core 
values'  I forget exactly what the Audi set is - it's all stuff like 'family, 
care, freedom, etc.'
Anyway, Volkswagen got 'fun'.  

There is a commitment to motorsport, because there simply has to be for a 
German brand.  But it has to be a form of motorsport seen as compatible with 
the core values.  Within the upper management of Audi and VAG there is a stock 
phrase that doesn't translate very well, but it basically boils down to "not 
wanting any spectators' bodies to have four rings imprinted on them."

Audi will _NOT_ return big-time to the rally scene unless crowd control is 
dramatically improved.  The shots of one car (Ford?) going off into a crowd in 
Portugal are always cited. 

 Phil Payne
 Committee Member, UK Audi [ur-]quattro Owners Club