The New York Times released a story about a new Audi equipped with a 300-horsepower turbocharged 2-liter 4 cylinder engine, called the S3 Cabriolet. The car can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour (mph) in 5.4 seconds, has a top speed of just over 155 mph, and a fuel economy of 33 miles per gallon. This is all very good specs, especially for a sports car.
Dealers expect the new Audi model to be available during the summer, but there’s just one catch. It will only be available in Europe for the initial release. It’s really a shame, because is Audi is serious about overtaking BMW as the premiere European car brand in the world, they have to get America involved, too, given that it’s a proven market serving as one of the most reliable barometers in the automobile industry.
The Problem with Delays
What’s the big deal? Audi is sure to release the S3 in the US eventually, so why not just wait for it? The strategy of releasing it in the US isn’t about the satisfaction of having something first, it’s about getting ahead. If an auto company wants to introduce a new piece of technology, or a new standard in luxury or comfort, they need to make people directly aware of what they’re offering. This means putting as many people behind the wheel as possible.
The Speed of Engineering
What most people don’t realize is that cars, regardless of brands, have essentially the same technology in them. If brand A came out with a transmission system that made shifting 0.73 seconds faster, other brands will break down the technology, tweak it (so it’s not exactly the same), and include it in their newer models. The painful part is, if brand A previously only sold their technology in Germany and other brands sold everywhere else, everyone will prefer the other brands, as they experienced the technology there first.
In the automobile industry, it’s not just about who builds the best cars or who delivers the best customer service; it’s also about who can bring these things to people first. Engineering constantly finds ways around patents, and openly declaring to customers “Hey, this is our thing, and we did it first,” is sometimes the only way to stay ahead.