STAVANGER, Norway - Europe's Volkswagen-Audi dealerships have started to split apart.
Peder S. Fjetland A/S, which has sold Audi and Volkswagen from the same dealer outlet here, became the first dealer in Europe to split and establish a new VW dealership with a layout recommended by Volkswagen.
More outlets will be opened around Europe in the next months.
VW is eager to upgrade dealers. It believes that separate franchises mean Audi and VW each will get more attention. The new corporate look will help build brand identity and build sales, says VW.
Fjetland spent about $8 million on the dealership, which has been selling about 1,200 new Audi and VW cars a year, as well as 600 used cars.
Fjetland has separated Audi and Volkswagen operations by 500 meters. They do not share the service area, used cars lot, or parts shop. The only common area is a repair shop for damaged cars.
The Audi dealership remains in the older building nearby. It will be refurbished soon.
A local construction firm, Block Berge Bygg in Stavanger, built the new VW dealership. Managing Director Audun Skartveit said the outlet built to VW's specifications was no more expensive than other dealerships built by Block Berge Bygg.
Peder S. Fjetland A/S is a 50-50 partnership between the Fjetland family and the VW importer, Harald A. Moeller A/S.
The Fjetland family has been in the car business since 1924, and with VW since 1948. Peder S. Fjetland A/S owns several Audi and VW dealerships.
The new Volkswagen dealership design is straightforward. It shuns signs of luxury or exclusivity by such design elements as an open ceiling, so the cooling and heating systems are exposed.
A more luxurious look might make customers think that Volkswagen cars are expensive.
Used and new cars are sold under the same roof, within meters of each other.
The goal is to attract customers to look for new or used cars in the same locality.
The new cars are arranged in circles. VW strongly believes that this layout will attract more buyers.
The area where customers deliver and receive cars from the service department is integrated with the sales outlet for new cars. The same entrance is used, and the service people use the same office equipment as sales people.
There are no fences between service and sales.