O Sharing parts is a great partner in reducing costs. Industries use this feature as much as they can, even between different brand designs, when it comes to a company bringing together several.
From an economic point of view, this is an advantage. However, especially for a luxury brand, it is difficult to explain to customers the similarity of their cars with other simple ones. These similarities can be many, from mechanics to onboard equipment.
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And it will happen at different levels: between high-end models such as Bentley and luxury Audi, and between Audi and just basic VW, with Bentley, Audi and VW being part of the same group.
Working in Audi advertising for almost 25 years, I had to face this kind of situation several times. In 1998, journalist Luís Perez, from Caderno de Veículos da Newspaperasked me to interview an Audi representative who could explain to him how Audi handled this issue, citing the similarities between the recently launched Audi A4 and the VW Passat.
According to Perez, the magazine tested the Passat V6 2.8, which was cheaper than the Audi A4, but had the same engine, gearbox, traction and braking system, among other equipment. They were similar to each other, they differed only in price, according to the journalist.
The topic was not new to me. But, knowing that your colleague’s agenda could be bad for the brand, I was still annoyed by the question. “Of course,” I replied. “I will get a representative from our board to speak with you as soon as possible.”
I thought it wise to turn to the vice president of Senna Import, Ubirajara Guimarães, who was an experienced professional and one of the best car dealers I have ever seen in my life.
On the agreed day and time, Bira, as the businessman who was a partner of the Senna family in the business is known, spoke to the journalist by phone, with me by his side, in his office. With the phone on speaker, I made a casual introduction, leaving the two free to talk.
Bira, as usual, was very friendly. But Perez didn’t waste time and soon started a conversation asking if the launch of the new VW Passat will harm the Audi A4, affecting not only the sales but also the look of the car, due to the fact that the two sedans have many marks inside. normal, which, according to him, could vulgarize the luxury model that had the sign of the four rings on the front grille.
Apart from the same platform, Perez listed the same components in the two cars, saying ironically that the biggest difference was in the price: “Passat and A4 are separated by no less than 27,000 US dollars”, he said. “Enough value to buy two popular 1.0 cars,” he added.
Before giving way to the businessman, Perez also asked: “If on the one hand the new Passat is the best VW of all time, is the A4 also the worst Audi of all time?”
Bira being very calm started to answer the last question. “No,” the vice president said emphatically. And he went on to say that, after the launch of the new Passat, sales of the Audi A4 grew in Europe. To be honest, I didn’t know that, let alone how Bira got the information.
But it was the turn of the partner of Senna Import to speak and, skillfully, he continued to say that the car is not just a platform and a group of components, that Audi uses special equipment in the production of cars and that the differences between the Audi A4 and the VW Passat can be seen in simple things such as knocking on doors.
“I myself did not know about this difference in the doors between the two models”
Bira’s explanation was very convincing. I myself did not know about these differences in the doors between the two models and even thought that he was comparing his utility vehicle, the top sedan Audi A8, with the new Passat.
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But the most important thing in Bira’s entire speech was the fact that he recognized the similarities between the two cars, saying that Volkswagen adopted Audi’s solutions to strengthen its image with the public. And it ended like this:
“It’s like building a house on the outskirts of the city and a house in a high-end neighborhood. The base is the same, but the finish is completely different”, said the vice president.
With that last speech, Bira managed to convince the writer that Audi and VW are different cars and that the Passat could never destroy the A4’s image. But he could not avoid the provocative headline that the newspaper wrote at the end of the week: “Passat, the poor cousin of the Audi A4”.
That day, thanks to the speaker I arranged to talk to the reporter, I managed to turn around a game that I thought was lost before it started. Volkswagen came out with a burnt image. But our role, mine and Bira’s, was to defend Audi and that’s what we did, showing the differences that existed between the cars.
Journalist, Charles Marzanasco worked for nine years as a reporter at QUATRO RODAS, ten years as a test consultant to Ayrton Senna. and 25 years at Audi.