Early evening, June 5, the sun shone on the opening of Audi’s grand flagship showroom, called Audi Downtown Vancouver. It is a vast space, two floors, showcasing automobiles, some of which are appearing in this market for the first time. The building itself was built in a coordinated effort with design and craftspeople from Audi AG in Germany. It is a state-of-the-art facility, “a fully-green building,” according to Mayor Gregor Robertson, and includes a service centre with 12 service bays, one detail bay, valet service, and a team of trained service technicians readily available.
Ajay Dilawri, president of Dilawri Group of Companies, spoke of the three years it took to get the project from an ambitious wish to an actual deluxe showroom. Martin Sander, senior director sales Americas for Audi AG (and past president of Audi Canada), echoed Dilawri’s comments as he recounted his experience envisioning the new showroom three years ago, while standing across the street with Dilawri and the building architects on a rainy November day. He elaborated with his company’s perspective, that their product is half the equation, with sales and service being the other half. “This is another building block on the way to making Audi a leading brand in the world,” said Sander, and his projections are on point. Audi is one of the fastest-growing premium brands in the industry in North America, having sold close to 1.6 million cars worldwide last year.
Wolfgang Hoffmann, president of Audi Canada, regaled the audience with some highly amusing anecdotes about how this showroom, complete with German artisans’ handiwork along many of the walls and ceilings, came to be. The luxury automobile segment in Vancouver is, in a word, hot, and this opening could not have been strategized better, since Audi plans to introduce several new, innovative models into the market soon. That, and summer is nigh, just the right time to look at the models on display on the extensive floor space here, on the corner of Burrard and West 2nd Avenue. “Our products are incredibly fun to drive,” said Hoffmann. “And we have a fantastic team of retailers. Today, another group of companies is joining us [the Dilawri Group], and we wish them many happy customers and great business.”
The celebratory feel carried throughout the evening, as Canadian crooner Matt Dusk performed, complete with full band, and the evening went into full swing with hors d’oeuvres served up by Hawksworth Restaurant and Bollinger champagne from Cru Wine Selections . Hoffman said later that “it is an incredibly exciting time for our company, and what you see tonight is the beginning of a new era, an even more exciting relationship between Audi and the Vancouver community.” Judging by the broad smiles on assembled guests’ faces, he is undoubtedly right.