When Audi announced last week in the wake of Ducati acquisition that it had also decided to place its much-rumored North American production facility in Mexico rather than the U.S., the story may have fuelled more conjecture than talk of Italian sport bikes. “They pushed it out behind Ducati like the White House dumps bad news on a Friday,” stated one P.R. rep at a competing company in casual conversation. Even conversations in our own discussion forums compared the move to issues Apple is experiencing with Chinese iPad factories and even caused readers to accuse each other of bigotry. The amount of misconceptions and stereotypes being brandied about in the wake of the announcement has been admittedly surprising.
Clearly Audi’s move is one based upon a business formula. Still, for enthusiasts and even general consumers, the decision is also proving to be both emotional and highly charged. There’s clearly more to the story, and that was our thinking when we joined American Audi PR representative Brad Stertz on a conference call this week that tackled the subject from a more analytic perspective.
One thing that seems most obvious around the virtual water cooler is that Audi’s move is distinctly different from chief rivals BMW in Spartansburg, SC or Mercedes-Benz in Tuscaloosa, AL. The move was even a surprise for owners and enthusiasts who assumed Audi would likely build near Volkswagen’s own just-opened Chattanooga, TN plant that builds the new VW Passat. So why the move to Mexico?