Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

CEO says Audi 'definitely' will be world's No. 1 premium automaker

Recommended Posts

CEO says Audi 'definitely' will be world's No. 1 premium automaker

Douglas A. Bolduc

Automotive News Europe -- June 23, 2010 06:01 CET

Audi is on a roll. It has passed Mercedes-Benz to become No. 2 in global premium car sales and predicts its operating profit will exceed its revenues this year. If the new A1 entry-premium car is as successful as early orders indicate, BMW may be bumped from its place as the world's top-selling premium brand -- a goal that Audi plans to reach by 2015. CEO Rupert Stadler says Audi will someday be the world's No. 1 premium brand, but refuses to get caught up in the excitement of it happening ahead of schedule. He says Audi is reaching new heights because of its growing portfolio of successful products, its leadership in the world's largest market and its strengthening position in the U.S. market. Stadler spoke about Audi's recent success and revealed how he plans to keep the momentum moving forward during an interview earlier this month with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Douglas A. Bolduc.

With the way that you are growing it is not out of the question that you will be the No. 1 premium carmaker by the end of this year. Would you agree?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We have a long-term target and we are working very hard to achieve that. Maybe we can achieve one or another sub target a little bit earlier but the most important thing is the brand building process -- the recognition of the brand in the market. This has to be done right and it is only done by offering substance. To do this, a lot of money needs to be invested in the right way. This is what we are doing.

If you don't end the year No. 1 in premium sales that's OK, right?

Our target is to become the leading premium brand in the world. It won't happen in 2010. It won't happen in 2011. But it will definitely happen.

Don't you think that becoming No. 1 in sales could happen even faster because of the launch of the new A1?

That is one part of strategic planning. We are the first company in the premium world to really offer a small premium car: something that offers premium in a new way. And we will be successful. I believe in that. The car is pretty nice and pretty good. And it is well received in the market; we feel that from our dealers. They are absolutely happy with that.

What have been the key events that have led to Audi's success over the past year?

I think that we have to be proud of all the new models we've launched during the last 12 months. We are talking about the Audi A1, which will be launched in the summer, the all-new Audi A8, and the A4 with the 2.0-liter TDI engine that produces 119 grams per kilometer of CO2 and the A3 that produces 99g/km. We also have to mention the Audi e-tron concept that we showed in Frankfurt last year. With this high-performance sports car Audi demonstrated that electric drive is not only a dream, it will be the future. By 2020, 3 percent of our car parc could be electric drive. And if we look back to the first four or five months, we achieved new global sales records. We've sold more than 450,000 cars so far, which is an increase of more than 20 percent compared with last year. As markets continue to positively develop, we forecast that we will not only increase our operating profit but will also break through the 1 million-unit barrier for sales to customers.

Audi has been a key contributor to parent Volkswagen AG's success over the past few years especially financially. Is that something you're quite proud of?

Of course, we should be proud. If there is one brilliant daughter within the Volkswagen group it is Audi. We are proud to contribute to such a large group.

Has your decision to push so strongly into China made Audi a stronger competitor against your German rivals?

Sometimes you have to be a pioneer. We were often told that we are behind BMW and Mercedes in the United States. Twenty years ago we started our operations in China and today we enjoy the benefits of that. We are good joint venture partners. The business success we have had proves that we were right (to invest) at that time.

Would you be having this much overall success had you not invested so much China the last 20 years?

In 2009, we delivered nearly 159,000 cars to customers in China. Based on current conditions we estimate that this year we will increase our sales to 200,000 units. So Audi will expand its commitment in international markets. In 2009 we added a new production plant in China. We intend to focus our activities there. When it came to new products, innovative technologies, and sales and marketing we invested during the economic crisis in 2009 when others hit the brakes. We continue to move forward.

I'd also like to mention our Super Bowl ad. That helped improve our image in the United States. We try to focus on all sides of the business and we will continue to do this.

Do you have any tangible evidence that your Super Bowl ad helped improve sales in the United States?

I'm not quite sure if our 30 percent increase in sales is directly related to our Super Bowl ad. The main reason that Audi is improving is because of our pioneering diesel technology. We decided to go with the diesel to the United States. We launched that very successfully with the Q7. With the A3 diesel we are offering the greenest car and cleanest car in the world. So we are quite happy. I would say that our strategy is mainly focused on product. And product pays back.

Don't you think that in order to really be taken seriously in the United States you need to build there?

Just look at how the brand is performing in all the key metrics. We are absolutely on the right track. We have excellent relations with their dealer body. They are very happy about the high quality and reliability of our cars. They are also happy about the design and the appearance of our cars. You can see that based on the more than 30 percent increase in sales in the first five months. We are still hard workers. We will continue to do that in the United States.

This also is not a euro-dollar currency issue in the United States. Even in difficult times with the euro-dollar exchange rate we pushed the quality of our business in the US because we believe in that market.

Audi has high expectations for the A1 small premium car that launches in Europe later this year.

How has the global financial crisis forced you to change your business philosophy and perhaps made you a better CEO?

One of the keys during the economic crisis was to focus on strategic investments. A lot of brands hit the brakes. But we said that the key to future success was an attractive model range so we invested heavily in new technologies and product. This is one of the reasons that we are able to launch the Audi A1 now and the Audi A7 later this year. The product portfolio will continue to grow. Probably next year you'll see the all-new Q3. We didn't stop. We tried to make sure everything would continue, even during difficult times.

This is your 20th year with Volkswagen group. Most of those years have been with Audi. What are some of the most courageous decisions made during your time at Audi?

Launching the R8 -- the R8 was really a big symbol for our organization and it required a lot of courage from the entrepreneurial point of view to do that. The other was the introduction of the turbodiesel into our racecar for the 24 hours of Le Mans. These have been the most significant decisions because they brought unexpected levels of success. You have to believe in success.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100623/ANE/100619876/1131#ixzz0rgi0XcEj

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we're stretching the definition a bit here. In no way would I consider an MB A-Class or B-Class to be "premium" just because it has a star on the nose. I haven't seen an A1 in person yet, but I'm guessing I'll have the same opinion on it as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we're stretching the definition a bit here. In no way would I consider an MB A-Class or B-Class to be "premium" just because it has a star on the nose. I haven't seen an A1 in person yet, but I'm guessing I'll have the same opinion on it as well.

Premium branded, and premium content to some degree...same w/ the Mini, definitely more 'premium' than mainstream A- or B- segment models like the Fit, Yaris, Versa, Fiesta, Spark, Aveo, etc...

The Mini has been the only premium subcompact in the US market so far, and Audi isn't bringing the A1 here, so it will be a while before this space grows in NA...though I assume the BMW '0-series' will be here eventually..

I wonder if we will see a tiny Cadillac eventually in this space..

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Premium branded, and premium content to some degree...same w/ the Mini, definitely more 'premium' than mainstream A- or B- segment models like the Fit, Yaris, Versa, Fiesta, Spark, Aveo, etc...

The Mini has been the only premium subcompact in the US market so far, and Audi isn't bringing the A1 here, so it will be a while before this space grows in NA...though I assume the BMW '0-series' will be here eventually..

I wonder if we will see a tiny Cadillac eventually in this space..

From the looks of it, the Fiesta, Mazda 2, and Aveo could make inroads into Mini's segement if equipped well enough. I find nothing particularly premium about the Mini other than it's styling and handling, both of which could be matched easily with little cost.

Take away the handling advantage... and what does Mini have that is premium over the others?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the looks of it, the Fiesta, Mazda 2, and Aveo could make inroads into Mini's segement if equipped well enough. I find nothing particularly premium about the Mini other than it's styling and handling, both of which could be matched easily with little cost.

Take away the handling advantage... and what does Mini have that is premium over the others?

Styling, interior design and detailing, options. It's not just another depressing, cheap gray box inside like most subcompacts are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"CEO says Audi 'definitely' will be world's No. 1 premium automaker"

This made me think of the UAW dude saying that they will unionize Toyota. You can say it all you want, doesn't mean it'll really happen. The arrogance of some people astounds me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Current subcompacts, yes. But that isn't the future. I'm on record for hating the stupid ergonomics of the Mini's interior. It is so much of a detractor to me that I would never ever consider one even if GM bought the brand and started building them in Pittsburgh.

Fiesta, Mazda 2, and Aveo are upping the ante.

Fiesta:

Ford-Fiesta-Interior-01-lg.jpg

Aveo:

Chevrolet-Aveo-RS-Concept-interior-3.jpg

Vs.

A-class interior

mba2.jpg

Audi A1:

audi_a1_metroproject_quattro_motorauthority_017.jpg

Basically, what you're buying now is the badge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The question is how will Audi become the #1 premium automaker. If they do it by selling lots of A1s and A3s, that doesn't make them look so great, that just means they stole some sales from the VW Golf, Rabbit, or Polo. So that doesn't really help the company at all, and it cheapens the Audi brand. If they become #1 by selling A8s and A6s, then that is another story. But right now the S-class and E-class crush the A8 and A6 in sales, so Audi even if Audi passes Mercedes overall, Mercedes is winning in the $45,000+ market where it matters.

Brand sales volume can be over rated, especially on luxury car brands, company volume matters more. If GM decided to put a swap out the bow tie on every Chevy with a Cadillac badge, Cadillac could sell 2-3 million cars a year, but we know that is doomed strategy. Audi brand may become #1, but I doubt they do it by selling actual luxury vehicles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A-class interior quality is waaay better than Fiesta's. It may look drab in pictures, but I've ridden in an A150 with leatherette and even that feels solid, like a proper Mercedes-Benz. There's no comparison.

(And it better be nice... because it's far more expensive than a Fiesta.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Current subcompacts, yes. But that isn't the future. I'm on record for hating the stupid ergonomics of the Mini's interior. It is so much of a detractor to me that I would never ever consider one even if GM bought the brand and started building them in Pittsburgh.

Fiesta, Mazda 2, and Aveo are upping the ante.

Basically, what you're buying now is the badge.

Production interior:

20-2011-audi-a1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  



About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We  Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets

facebook

×