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Audi "chasing" BMW and 4-ring logo (Was Hannu Mikkola..)
When I was looking for my '86 5KCSTQ in January I went for a test drive in a
car that was owned by a BMW salesperson. I opined at the time that Audi was
following a conservative strategy in the U.S. (wasn't thinking of elsewhere)
and trying to redefine the brand to the customers here, and rebuild a kernel
of loyal market share and recognition for quality and safety (things I hadn't
yet forgotten they had). He was talking about how the "new" Audi hadn't
introduced any "hard-core" performance cars yet like the M3.
It takes time for people to see new Audis on the road, go for rides in their
neighbors' cars, and read enough good reviews to get them to switch back to a
brand that has been through the mud.
You and I might understand, for instance, (to use a drastic example) that the
Thalidomide crisis was caused because the manufacturing technique at the time
mistakenly allowed the "wrong-handed" (toxic) enantiomer of the chemical to
be distributed along with the normally safe, bioconvertable one, but look at
how long it has taken for Thalidomide to be recertified for distribution (for
the treatment of leprosy!). All it would take is one case of a birth defect
to emerge in someone taking the "new" Thalidomide to dig up all of the old
It might take a while before we see Audi give the U.S. the full-blooded cars
that the Europeans get. It doesn't surprise me that they're gun-shy in the
U.S., especially considering that the lawsuits are still pending, at least in
Illinois. And I too have met a lot of people who don't realize that Audi is
a German car. If a lot of people are upset that the new VWs look a lot like
Audis, remember that practically everyone knows that VWs are German cars.
Although that's probably not the main reason for the cross-breeding, it
can't hurt Audi if for more people it "clicks" that Audi is a German car.
In the meantime, probably the best thing we can do as Audi enthusiasts is to
keep enjoying our Audis on the road, in the public eye.