Company chasing solid sales volume, but not at all costs

Coming off the back of a challenging 2017, Audi Australia says it's focusing primarily on creating a sustainable, profitable business for dealers, with an expectation volume will naturally grow as core brand values are applied to the customer experience.

Audi sold 22,011 cars in Australia during 2017, down from 24,258 in 2016. So far this year, the company is up 1.7 percent with 6745 sales from January to April, with April representing 7.5 percent growth alone. The decline in 2017 came on the back of 13 years of consecutive local growth.

Speaking to CarAdvice in Germany this week, Audi Australia corporate communications manager, Shaun Cleary, said the German brand is still on track to reverse last year's results, but the primary focus is elsewhere.

“It is a challenging market, and I think we are not the only brand that sees it like that,” Cleary told CarAdvice on the A6 launch.

“In general, what we want to do is make sure that our business operates as profitability as it can and well as our dealer network, who are significant investors in the Audi brand like we are.

"That is our focus, and also delivering what customers want at the right price points in the right segments.”

According to Cleary, focusing on the right strategies for the brand will see organic growth, but it isn't a primary focus.

“If we focus on some of the basics we have spoken about before – making sure we have a great price and product offer, making sure we're over delivering on customer satisfaction and focusing on loyalty, and then things like volume stem from that if you get those basics right," Cleary said.

"But it’s definitely not our primary concern. Yes we are a retail sales company, but we also want to make sure that when we are selling cars we are doing so in a sustainable way, and that’s really where we are focusing on.”

Cleary admits rivals BMW (up 0.5 percent year to date, was down 15.7 percent from 2016 to 2017) and Mercedes-Benz (down 4.4 percent year to date, was up 3.1 percent from 2016 to 2017) are better established than Audi, making the younger brand more of a challenger in the market.

“[We are] making sure that our brand is very strong in a very competitive premium market, obviously traditionally we have had many, many years of growth but we are a younger brand with established German rivals in this segment, so that’s a key area we are working on as well as customer satisfaction – making sure we deliver a good product and pricing offer,” Cleary said.

While Audi suffered a meaningful sales decline in Australia last year, it saw solid growth for well over a decade leading in.

“Audi Australia is confident with our position in the market," Cleary told us.

"Last year was another successful year in terms of volume but it wasn’t another year of growth, but we’ve had 13 consecutive years of growth so at some point that was going to plateau a little bit and the evidence suggests it’s a challenging market,"he continued.

"We are coming on the back of some great wave of product coming, in terms of strengthening our brand and making sure it can be as strong as it can be with flagship models like A8, A6 and new models like e-Tron.

The new-generation of models coming from Audi include the A8 (July), A7 (October), RS5 Sportback (November-December) followed early next year by the A6. From there, the popular A1 will see an all-new iteration, as will the ageing Q3, giving the brand product with which to grow.

Cleary says the goal for Audi Australia in 2018 is “solid sales volume”, but not at all costs.

“Ideally that’s growth but in the end, we better make sure we are delivering a sustainable busies were we are profitable or dealers are profitable and we are meeting market demand.”