Audi Coronavirus Financial Rel...

Jack R. Nerad | April 15, 2020

We've all heard of cars that can "turn on a dime." In mid-March, the American auto industry's sales turned on a dime, and Audi's sales swerved right along with them.

Audi Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car IncentivesThrough the first two months of this year Audi SUV sales, the brand's bread-and-butter for the past few years, were up 37% versus the first two months of 2019. The refreshed 2020 Audi Q7 was up 25%, but the recently redesigned Q3 was the astounding success, up 1,326%. (Yes, you read that right.) But then, like the entire industry did, Audi ran into a buzz saw in mid-March, and its overall sales for the month fell 52% dragging first-quarter sales into negative territory, down 14%.

The reason for the dramatic decline in sales is so obvious it doesn't need to be stated. The question now is how long will the current coronavirus-caused downturn last?

In the midst of it all, Audi is taking steps to help its current customers who have run into sudden financial difficulty and at the same time endeavoring to persuade new customers that this is an opportune time to buy or lease a luxury car or SUV.

Audi Customer Relief Programs - Find the best deals!

For its existing loan and lease customers who are experiencing unexpected financial hardship that could cause them to miss one or more payments, Audi is offering several coronavirus car payment plans. Among those options are the deferral of a payment or payments and extension of expiring leases to a new lease-end date.

Audi suggests that its Audi Financial Services (AFS) customers manage their accounts online via myAudi. Through the portal, Audi customers can manage and make changes to their accounts to address changes in their financial situation. AFS says that most of the necessary alterations can be initiated online in that manner. Customers can also view statements and make payments online.

Those who need or want to speak with an Audi Financial Services representative can get answers to questions about available payment and lease turn-in options by calling (888) AFS-AUDI [(888) 237-2834]. At this time, AFS is experiencing long hold times at its contact centers while its representatives assist other customers.

Some Audi lease and finance customers did not obtain their lease or auto loan through Audi Financial Services. Audi advises them to contact their lender or leasing company directly for relief assistance. Many lenders have new programs to help those affected by the coronavirus situation with various payment options including the deferral of some payments, depending upon individual circumstances.

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Audi New Car Incentives - Find the best deals!

Volkswagen, one of Audi's sister brands, has announced the Community-Driven Promise that gives qualified new buyers the option of delaying their first payment for up to 180 days combined with zero-percent financing for up to 72 months. The program is set to run through April 30.

Like most luxury brands, Audi is taking a different course. It has not announced a national program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it is relying for the moment on its current national, regional and local offers and incentives.

For example, most current Audi owners are eligible for a $2,000 loyalty incentive on 2019 model-year vehicles and a $1,000 incentive on 2020 model-year vehicles. Audi also offers other incentive programs that include corporate sales, military sales, a college graduate program, and a first-time buyer program. In addition, Audi has a program for diplomats and a program for foreign business professionals. Each of the programs includes special financing and lease offers to qualifying customers.

Audi Factory Closures - Find the best deals!

As part of Volkswagen Group, Audi operates 18 production, design and engineering facilities in 13 countries around the world. In total it employs more than 90,000 workers, and last year it delivered 1.8 million vehicles globally.

The company does not have a U.S. manufacturing facility, but it does produce vehicles in Mexico. The bulk of its vehicle production comes from Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, Germany, as well factories in Hungary and Belgium. Within the network of parent company Volkswagen, Audi also manufactures cars at European production facilities in Slovakia, Spain, and Russia and worldwide in Brazil, India, and China.

Currently, all Audi factories in Europe and several around the world have suspended production. More than 75,000 workers are idled by the suspension, which is not scheduled to end in Europe until after Easter (April 12.)

"I am convinced that things will continue for the Audi employees after the crisis is over," Markus Duesmann, the new chairman of the board of management of Audi AG said in a statement. "At the moment, one thing counts above all: the health of our employees, their families, and society as a whole. And to protect it, we need to flatten the infection curve."

Even though production is on hold, many Audi dealers in the U.S. are open for sales, service and parts business. Auto service is regarded as essential in many locales, and several Audi dealers are still selling new and used vehicles, some offering "touchless" at-home delivery.

Audi Economic Outlook & Sales Forecast - Find the best deals!

Beginning in mid-March, self-quarantine and stay-at-home restrictions sent overall vehicle sales crashing in the United States. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate tumbled to a dismal 11.2 million, a vivid contrast to J.D. Power's pre-virus sales forecast of 16.9 million sales for the calendar year 2020. As this is written, J.D. Power's most recent 2020 outlook for total vehicle sales is 12.1 to 14.8 million units.

Depending upon how quickly the pandemic conditions moderate, the industry sales decline in April could be even worse than in March. Executives from Audi have offered no comment on the brand's sales outlook for the remainder of the year or on the overall outlook for 2020 calendar-year sales.

For the balance of the year, auto sales results will be hurt by fear of the disease itself and the overall economic hardship caused by the virtual closing of the hospitality industry and others. As the country emerges from the epidemic, vehicle production lost to plant closures could also injure sales prospects.

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