words: Tim Enders, photos: George Achorn
Editor’s note: This article originally ran in the Q1_2019 issue of quattro magazine.
One of the most anticipated events on Audi enthusiasts’ calendar has been the annual Audi of America Open House at its headquarters in Herndon, VA and is hosted by Audi Club North America. We are fortunate to have a close relationship with Audi of America and the Open House is the perfect time to invite club members to have a peek behind the veil. It really gives members a behind-the-scenes idea of what’s going on at “The Mothership.”
Upon arrival, club members were greeted with the American and German flags waving in the fall breeze as they turned on to Ferdinand Porsche Drive. Attendees were also greeted with a display featuring some of Audi’s latest and most exciting products… as well as some history.
Club members driving Audi vehicles get preferred parking, of course, slotted in a space normally reserved for Audi of America employees and right in front of the building. Walking from the parking lot to the front doors took enthusiasts past a row of display of vehicles that began with a classic Volkswagen LT van done up in vintage Audi Sport livery that serves as a mobile Audi Accessories and Audi collection store when at events. Next to that was a brand new S5 Sportback kitted out with some of the latest Audi Accessories offerings. There were also a pair of current R8s, one of which had a special livery to commemorate the brand’s partnership with Major League Soccer. On the other side of the main entrance were even more of Audi’s latest: a red RS 5 plus the all new A6 and A7.
Inside the building, Audi Club members picked up a gift as well as a color-coded wristband that assigned them to one of several tour groups for the day’s activities. Also, in the main foyer was a popup Audi Club store with free copies of the last few issues of quattro for any who missed them along with a selection of Audi Club gear. The members of Audi Club’s Board of Directors, as well as several of the Club’s full-time staff were in attendance so there was a great chance for members to discuss the club with its management team.
On the main floor of Audi headquarters is the Audi Forum, where some of Audi’s most interesting vehicles are always on display, and open-house day is no different. On this day, Audi staff had chosen an A6 S-line sedan, an A7 Sportback, an A8 sedan, and a brand new Q8 SUV for the Forum show floor. Each of these vehicles were unlocked and members were invited to inspect and examine them as much as they would like.
After a greeting from Potomac Chapter president Christine Lemley, there was a presentation by Matt Mostafaei, Product Planner for Connected Vehicles and e-tron, and Cody Thacker, Director of Audi ONE, on Audi’s future in electric mobility. This talk centered around the new e-tron, Audi’s first all-electric SUV. With seating for five, 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, a 4,000-pound tow rating, and more range after faster charging than either the Tesla Model X or the Jaguar I-Pace, the e-tron looks to be a serious contender in the emerging electric crossover market. While, unfortunately, there was not an e-tron on hand for viewing, the presentation gave a great insider’s view of what’s coming for Audi in the electric segment.
The first of the presentations planned next took place on the floor of the Audi Forum. Several Audi product planners were on hand to walk attendees through the various vehicles on display. Having the team in the room who actually plans Audi’s offerings is a great way for club members to get information right from the source, since these executives are the people who decide what options, packages, and versions of the various vehicles will be imported for sale in the US market. While the new A7 drew attention for the haptic feedback MMI Touch Response panels, and the A8 for its class leading technology, the star of this segment was the Q8. The Q8 also features the MMI Touch Response system, as well as the Audi Virtual Cockpit Tthe example on display was loaded with extra options, including Bang & Olufsen 3D premium sound, Audi advanced keyless start, Adaptive Cruise Assist, traffic sign recognition, HD Matrix Design headlights, and LED taillights with animation.
The final presentation area for the day was right outside the doors to the building and it centered around Audi Accessories. On hand from the ccessories team were Ian Avilla and Will Barber, who walked attendees through several of the accessories cars on display. Much attention was drawn by the two R8’s. The second of these, Barber explained, was to become a test bed for fitting some parts soon to come on the market in the USA for the R8. Several members present were R8 owners and they were happy to hear about coming offerings for their cars. Next up was a blue S5 Sportback that had been fitted with a selection of accessories offerings, and finally the aforementioned 80s Volkswagen LT Audi Sport transporter replica that serves as a mobile Audi collection pop-up store at various events. Much like getting to pick the brains of product planners about coming cars, many members enjoyed the chance to discuss the official Audi ccessories parts that were available for their own cars with the team.
After everyone had rotated through all of the stations, the final bit of the day was a farewell address. Everyone gathered back inside the Audi Forum for this. Several door prizes were given away, including the annual one for furthest distance traveled to the event, which. It was awarded to a gentleman who had come all the way from Arizona for the day. The Open House is a great event and we would encourage all club members to add next year’s event to your calendars as soon as it’s announced.