The images of the Audi ice experience are absolutely idyllic: brilliant sun, powder snow. The backlit crystals are a dream for every photographer and cameraman whenever Audi’s customers drift over frozen lakes in northern Europe or in Austria to their heart’s content.
That at least is the pleasant view from a customer’s perspective. Yet the Audi ice experience employees have a gruelling task ahead of them to turn each event into an unforgettable winter dream. Months of planning, detailed logistics, the technical preparation of all cars and hard work at the venue go into ensuring that each and every course participant feels happy. As early as May, Audi orders tyres with steel spikes to equip all the cars in the coming winter. It takes a lot of thorough preparation whenever new models join the Audi winter fleet. From September, the engineers begin preparing the vehicles for use on ice and snow. Normally Audi converts the cars for the course participants at the end of October. In early January, a carrier transports the fleet to the destinations. 18 Audi models for the course participants, an Audi Q7 for the servicing, one or two test vehicles as well as a demonstration model are available at each location – making their way on four car transporters to the individual venues. Twice as many cars are used in Finland.
Yet the cars are just one element in the Audi ice experience. Without lots of other materials everything would grind to a halt. From the box pallet for spare parts to the tyre changer, from the Euro pallets packed with freight to the tool bench, from the office equipment to the small items, Audi takes everything it needs with it. The entire materials store for Finland takes up almost 50 cubic metres. Rims, spare parts, shock absorbers, steam cleaners, vehicle jacks, cleaning products and many other items weigh almost 7 tonnes altogether. Employees have to run through an entire check list before the courses start. The mechanics work through an extensive programme every day, covering everything from exterior washing, interior cleaning to tyre pressures and checking the spikes, not to mention any repairs – car by car. Each handling course is looked after and cordoned off again every day, the radios are checked, the cars refuelled. While Mother Nature does her bit to cushion the impact as participants veer off into the deep snow, the white blanket is by no means as soft as it looks. If the course visitors take things too far, a bumper may end up shattering on the icy wall of snow or the underbody getting damaged.
The experienced staff are familiar with these kinds of incidents, pull out the stuck cars and resolve any technical problems in no time at all. The work involved, however, is very different to the work at your local Audi dealer. The tasks are much more varied and the working conditions pose their own challenge. The Audi ice experience takes place at some of Europe’s coldest locations. Night-time temperatures of 28 degrees Celsius below zero are the norm near to the Arctic Circle in January. Anyone who feels the cold is definitely not the ideal service employee in the Audi ice experience. Customers, on the other hand, can expect the perfect conditions. Before the participants get into the cars after a hearty breakfast, the engines will already have been run up to temperature, the cockpits heated to a cosy temperature and the legendary quattro drive set to give its best in the next drift session. The figures demonstrate just how popular the Audi ice experience is. Audi – pioneer of quattro all-wheel drive – set up its range of courses on snow many years ago. To date more than 10,000 participants have savoured driving fun at the limit in the Audi ice experience and matured into better drivers in the process. A couple of centimetres of snow in Central Europe will certainly no longer stand in their way.