Picture a dealership possessing 27 models in stock and counting more than 180 vehicles on hand — tied to a newly re-tailored 30,000-square-foot auto complex.

Big for any car brand, the fresh-faced outlet is centered in a moderate sized metro area boasting a population in the 700,000s. It's McDaniels Audi of Charleston, located near the Interstate 526 overpass west of the Ashley.

"We do carry inventory (like) bigger cities," general manager Scott Firth said. "We get people from all over the East Coast," he said, noting that the dealership last month sold a TTS sports model to a North Carolina customer and an R8 race car-like vehicle priced in six figures.

"Scott Keogh was very impressed," he said.

Yes, as in the Audi North America chief executive, one of the top brass at a August gala that drew top carmaker officers, Columbia-based dealership owner Bill McDaniels, the South Carolina governor, Charleston's mayor and a couple hundred more guests met by valets and ushered inside on red carpets.

"The turnout was really good," Firth said.

A light emitting diode display directed bright rays within the modernistic building as the crowd enjoyed a fashion show, walked through an art gallery, sampled shrimp and witnessed a room-sized ice sculpture carved with the manufacturer's ringed logo.

Even a downpour and lightning storm near the end of the evening event couldn't dampen the enthusiasm at McDaniels Audi of Charleston, which showcased its first major overhaul in more than a decade and garnered the spotlight for a brand that's grown from a minor player in the early 2000s to approaching Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and BMW new car sales numbers nationwide this summer.

The higher volume totals are impacted at least somewhat by the Lowcountry market. "Sales are up double digits in the Charleston area year over year," Firth said.

While a hit for parties, the Audi property at 2293 Savannah Highway offers practical perks for customers:

  • A wide-open showroom can display up to nine coupes, sedans, SUVs and convertibles — which can be viewed from a semi-circular second floor balcony boasting comfy chairs and an attached table with built-in plugs for smart phones and tablets. The recent gallery includes a new R5S, just 500 models are built a year.
  • The size of the service center doubled, and Audi owners can conveniently drop off cars for appointments in a covered carport, then watch TV, plug in a laptop and grab coffee or snacks in the enlarged waiting area.
  • A retooled parts department stores goods upstairs to be lowered to the first floor customer assistance bay.
  • New features for upgrading vehicles. For instance, "We went from having no detail bays to five," the general manager says.  
  • Installing electric vehicle chargers on site as part of a company-wide drive to globally invest $61 billion in EV technology by 2022. Interested buyers can place orders by late this month to pick up the first eTron models by next April. The cars eventually can run 250 miles a fill up on a new fast-charging system to take less than 20 minutes to plug in and be ready to roll. 

Firth said the revamped McDaniels Audi of Charleston campus, which boasts 34 employees, offers aesthetic upgrades, too. It's more energy efficient (with) more room for service," Firth said. "We are (part) of the revitalization of West Ashley."

For more information or photos, go to www.postandcourier.com/automotive.

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.