One of the many challenges facing automakers right now is acquainting potential buyers with the experience of driving or riding in their newest models.
As early as 2014, a third of car buyers test drove only one model, and 17% skipped the test drive completely. With the pandemic having restricted the availability of many showrooms and shifted all of the car-shopping process online, the “no touch” test drive has become the norm. But that happens only after a selected model gets delivered to the buyer’s driveway.
As the days of visiting multiple dealerships to walk the lot continues to fade, automakers have fewer in-person opportunities to woo American motorists. But Audi of America has found one clever way: toss them the keys when they’re on vacation.
This week, the car brand announced it was partnering with the swank 1 Hotel chain, which will make the Audi e-tron luxury SUV the official “house car” at its properties in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
Like many luxe lodgings, 1 Hotels are happy to give guests a lift to nearby destinations for free (in New York, for example, you’ll be taken anywhere within 15 blocks). During “curated local excursions,” 1 Hotels will also allow guests to take the wheel for what Audi is terming “e-tron test-drive experiences.”
Since 1 Hotels’ four existing locations tend to be good-sized properties (the West Hollywood address has 285 rooms), the potential is there for many well-heeled travelers to zip around in a new electric Audi, and if all goes to plan, be suitably impressed.
In a statement, Audi CMO Tara Rush said the partnership will give hotel guests “the chance to learn about the benefits of electric vehicles and experience the thrill of driving one of Audi’s fully electric models.”
Setting aside the potential customer stream, there is an obvious congruity to the partnership as well. Audi has already committed itself to a model lineup that’s 30% electric (fully or partially) by 2025. The brand has also pledged to reach carbon-neutral status by 2050. For its part, 1 Hotels—which take their name from billionaire founder Barry Sternlicht’s “1 world” philosophy of embodying “the beauty of nature in a hotel and commit[ing] to safeguarding it”—carry LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.