Stepping up efforts in commercial fleet sales, Audi of America recently hosted some 50 fleet industry professionals in the New York City area at a drive event featuring the Audi A6 mid-size luxury sedan.

Audi “is here to be taken seriously in the commercial fleet market,” says Ross Friedmann, Audi of America commercial account manager. “Audi is a viable alternative for high-end vehicles.” Drive event participants took the A6 through several handling and maneuverability courses at Six Flags New Jersey.

Audi Offers Fleet Programs
In his presentation, Audi North American Corporate Sales Manager Craig Cheatle noted that Audi offers the traditional fleet services, including national fleet incentive and volume purchase programs, direct factory ordering with major leasing companies, and courtesy delivery. The Audi 4-year, 50,000-mile warranty includes a scheduled maintenance program, Audi Care, with volume purchases.

“Fleets are surprised at how affordable Audi models are when total lifecycle costs are calculated,” says Friedmann. “Our strong residuals offset initial cap costs.”

New Jersey drive event attendees experienced first-hand the benefits of Audi’s standard Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP). Riding with an instructor, participants drove a timed course with the ESP turned off, then repeated the course with activated ESP. The difference was “phenomenal, amazing,” said Rosalie Falato, property control supervisor for New Jersey-based JVC America, citing the control ESP provided during sharp turns.

The experience “clearly indicated what control ESP provides,” agreed Frank Memolo, fleet manager for consumer electronics company Panasonic.

Two Audi models were recently named “Top Safety Picks” in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ratings. The Audi A6 was the only model listed in the large car category, while the Audi A4 took honors in the midsize category.

Fleet Response Positive
The Audi drive event did spark interest among attending fleet managers. Based “partially on the drive experience and crunching the numbers,” Falato indicated she is considering adding Audi to her 137-unit fleet vehicle selection. “With the right incentive, and figuring resale values and other lifecycle costs, the Audi looks cheaper to run than competitive models,” she said.

Frank Murdocco, fleet manager for Coty, Inc., plans to add the A4 and A6 to his 250-vehicle sales and executive fleet. “The Audi was never a vehicle I considered because no one asked for it. But it adds a cache to our vehicle program. And I looked at the resale values; with maintenance included, it’s a good sell. And in terms of hiring personnel, the Audi is a draw.”

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