Audi Australia’s new managing director Andrew Doyle, who joined the local arm on March 1 from a position as Audi MD in Ireland, said that although local sales lifted by only 0.2 per cent last year the German company experienced an 18.2 per cent rise in volume in the first quarter of 2013.
The new target is to surpass BMW and Mercedes-Benz to become the number one selling premium brand by 2020 … or earlier.
“We lost a little ground last year,” admitted Doyle (below). “But trust me we have plans for that in the near future.
“We’re forecasting well over 15,000 units for 2013."
In 2012, Audi sales reached 14,535 units, which is more than double the volume the company managed five years earlier in 2007. Audi says it represented just 30 per cent of BMW volume in 2005, but now almost matches their volume with a 90 per cent stake.
Audi’s first quarter 2013 performance of 4064 sales would indicate an annual tally of more than 16,000 units.
While committing to becoming the number one brand by 2020, Doyle added that “we may not catch our competition in 2014 … or maybe even 2015”, hinting that the milestone before the end of the decade may be achievable.
Audi Australia says it has a “premium tactical” plan to combat what it describes as an “always on” market environment. While noting that the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is “certainly a very strong competitor”, Doyle expects the launch of the A3 Sportback next month, and the A3 sedan in early 2014, to drive the majority of growth.
Although the A3 Sportback will initially launch with two petrol and two diesel drivetrains, added in September will be a 1.8-litre turbo quattro model and a 1.4-litre turbo with cylinder deactivation technology. The S3 Sportback will follow late this year.
Audi will also launch a value-packed limited edition of the A1 in May 2013, followed by a special A4 and A5 in July, and Q7 in September, to maintain sales interest. A much-needed dual-clutch automatic transmission will be added to the front-wheel-drive Q3 103kW TDI model from September, while the RS line will be boosted by the RS5 Cabriolet in August and the RS6 Avant in October.
Following that in March 2014 will be the RSQ3 sports-compact SUV, followed by the A3 and S3 sedan, and the new generation S8 limousine in April.
Audi Australia stresses that “being number one isn’t just about volume”, calling 2013 a year of securing the brand before a drive for growth next year.
That means strengthening the dealer network; while the current 37 dealers won’t expand any further, investment is being made upgrading dealership facilities. A total $51.5 million is being spent in 2013, split between a new facility in Melbourne ($25m), Doncaster ($15.5m), Sydney service centre ($6m) and regional dealerships Toowoomba, Queensland ($2m), New England, New South Wales ($1.5m) and Wollongong, New South Wales ($3m).
A total of 30 new dealer apprenticeships will be made available in 2013, while at the other end Audi will invest $12,000 in dealer business leaders (invite only) to boost and retain “talent”.
Audi Australia will continue being “active” in “touchpoints of a customer’s life” by sponsoring golf, sailing, contemporary art, motorsport and theatre.
Globally, Audi likewise wants to beat BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Worldwide sales of 1.455 million in 2012 were up 11.7 per cent on the previous year, eclipsed by BMW by 85,0000 units.
The company’s biggest markets were China (405,838 cars sold) then Germany (263,163).