Cupra Australia isn’t just continuing to expand its model offerings, it’s also looking to expand its physical dealer footprint too – with “around 15” sites set to be operational before year’s end.
Speaking with CarExpert, Cupra’s local product and planning boss Jeff Shafer said the Spanish upstart will almost double its headcount of ‘Garages’ in Australia by the end of 2023, with more to come.
“I think we’ll be moving from around nine today, to 15 by the end of the year,” Mr Shafer said. “We’re definitely still in the expansion phase, extending the reach a bit. We’ll have more announcements as we go forward.”
“Over the next two to three years, it will continue to a degree, and then that sets us up really nicely for that 2025-26 wave of new product as well.”
Mr Shafer added that while Cupra’s online sales portal and stock locator is a key part of the brand’s offering, having physical sites is still equally as important as is its standardised pricing model.
“We really believe it’s important to have a human touch in the process,” Mr Shafer said.
“We have an online journey if you want to take it, but we expect overwhelmingly people will come in and want to sit in the car, test drive the car, talk to an expert about ‘what are the options’, ‘what are the different things I can get?”
Adding to Mr Shafer’s comments, product communications manager Daniel DeGasperi said: “For example, Cupra Canberra have wall chargers there [in the showroom], so people who are deciding ‘which wall charger do I get with my VZe [plug-in hybrid] or Born?’ – they need to see it”.
“It’s a good blend between online where you can see the stock, and that real-life experience, because what’s so important to Cupra is that we’re competing against not other automotive brands, but fashion brands.
“If you look at the way fashion has evolved and emerged, the expectations of consumers when they’re dealing with fashion showrooms isn’t too dissimilar to car showrooms,” Mr DeGasperi continued.
“It’s changing from the fact you used to talk to the salesperson then the finance person then the accessories person – consumers in a post-COVID world where they’re used to online shopping, do not want that complexity.”
Mr Shafer then added: “We really want to offer a transparent experience to the consumer. It’s a fixed price, but it’s a price we have to make a compelling value, or else it’s not going to work”.
“That situation where you go to a BBQ and you say ‘hey what did you get, ‘oh I got a Formentor, what did you pay?’ – you pay the same thing because it’s transparent and the customers will decide if it’s a compelling or not.
“So, we’ve got to be on our game to make sure the products are positioned right, but hopefully it’s also a refreshing journey for the customer to go through and experience.”
Cupra currently has nine locations throughout Australia, its most recent being the Adelaide Garage in South Australia, operated by the Solitaire Automotive group.
The South Australian location – which opened in March – joins the three Cupra Garages owned by AP Eagers (Indooroopilly, Gold Coast, Perth), Zagame’s Melbourne pair (Chadstone, Richmond), Sydney’s Alto Prestige (CBD and Artarmon) and Canberra’s Lennock Motors.
Cupra now has a physical dealer presence in all but two states in territories in Australia, with NT and Tasmania notably without a Cupra Garage at this stage. While Mr Shafer didn’t confirm where the next six locations would be located, we imagine these uncharted territories would be high on the hit list.
While still pretty fresh to the Australian market, Cupra has notched up some 2200 orders (as of late March) since the brand launched during the third quarter of 2022.
So far in 2023, the Spanish performance upstart has logged 967 registrations to the end of April; led by its popular Formentor crossover (600 units), followed by the Ateca SUV (219 units), Leon hatchback (117 units) and the all-electric Born (31 units).
Expect that tally to continue growing steadily, with some 500 Borns already ordered by Australian customers, and over 1000 deliveries forecast for the new electric model alone in 2023.
It’s also worth noting the Formentor’s 600-vehicle year-to-date tally to the end of April is already outpacing more established VW Group nameplates in Australia so far in 2023, including the Skoda Karoq (541 units), Kodiaq (423 units), Octavia (474 units), as well as the Audi Q2 (289 units).
Stay tuned to CarExpert for our Australian launch review of the all-new Cupra Born at 7:00PM AEST, May 4.