Looks like the rumours were true – according to a number of reports, DRB-Hicom has confirmed that Audi is in the midst of taking over the Malaysian franchise from its subsidiary Euromobil, which had been the sole distributor for the four-ringed marque since February 2010.
In speaking to the press, DRB-Hicom’s senior group director of distribution and marketing Datuk Radzaif Mohamed said that the group has been informed of “the start of the transition” of local operations back to Audi, although no official handover date has been decided. He added that “some details still need to be ironed out.”
“DRB-Hicom and Audi have been in talks about this and I wouldn’t call it a loss or termination of distributorship but rather a transition for both companies,” said Radzaif. “It is up to Audi whether it wants to control the entire operations, which include wholesale, retail, import and after-sales service, or outsource some of the operations to DRB-Hicom.”
The reports also stated that the Volkswagen showroom at Volkswagen Group Malaysia’s (VGM) headquarters in Bangsar, which had been under renovation for some time, will be reopened as Audi Malaysia’s office effective from today.
Radzaif said that it is a natural progression for the principal brand owner to establish an official entity in the country once the brand presence reaches a certain level. “If you look at the likes of BMW and Honda, it is only natural for the principal to now look at how else they can support the local market going forward.”
He also denied rumours of an acrimonious split between the two companies, saying that DRB-Hicom was always aware of Audi’s takeover plans and that it had always been “a matter of when.”
Radzaif added that the group is confident of retaining its dealership with Audi under the new arrangement. “We will continue to be a dealer and spend money to promote, market and build up the Audi brand,” he said.
Despite the step back, he stated that DRB-Hicom is unlikely to see a significant impact on its financials through this development, as the introduction of new models is expected to safeguard it from reduced wholesale margins. Euromobil has already introduced two new cars to the market this year – the facelifted A8 and the A3 Sedan – and is expected to launch a facelifted A6 and an all-new A4 next year.
Indeed, Radzaif claimed that the group takes a positive view on Audi’s takeover move, as it will allow Euromobil to focus on expanding its dealership network and relieve it of the burden of advertising and promotional spending, which will fall mostly under Audi Malaysia.