German automakers often compete against one another for the most impressive display during the Frankfurt Motor Show, but it appears Audi may win this year’s rivalry with a massive display — complete with an indoor test drive course — that will cost the automaker nearly $14.3 million to build.
Unlike the past, when Audi would showcase its models as part of the Volkswagen Group’s display, spectators can expect to see Audi’s very own pavilion at the show, complete with a 400-meter long track. In total, Audi’s exhibition hall for Frankfurt will measure about 100 meters long, 70 meters wide, and 12 meters high, with the track looping the interior yet remaining partially visible from the building’s exterior. About 30 models will be on display, and visitors can ride and circle the hall in roughly a dozen of them — reportedly including select race cars.
Why the massive display? It’s one of several ways Audi hopes to overtake its domestic arch-rival, BMW. BMW first showcased an indoor track as part of its Frankfurt stand in 2009, and even Mercedes-Benz is apparently following the trend, and incorporating a roadway into this year’s display. So what, exactly, will make Audi’s track different?
“It’ll be surprising, emotional, architecturally great, with a real wow effect,” says Audi Chief Executive Officer Rupert Stadler.
Competition among all three German automakers has gotten fierce since Mercedes was overtaken by Audi as the second-largest maker
of luxury vehicles this year. Mercedes’ operating margin was 9.3 percent of sales, compared with Audi’s 10.6 percent and BMW’s 11.9 percent.
“They’re not just traditional trade shows anymore. We’re all spending more because you need to get your share of exposure,” Christoph Horn, head of product communication at Mercedes-Benz, told Bloomberg. Frankfurt is perhaps the most important venue for the German luxury automakers to strut their stuff, seeing as it is one of the few shows hosted on their own soil.
Construction for the Audi display will start July 1, and should finish before the show’s press week in early September.