Audi looks at the diesel trail
Tax breaks are an added incentive for smaller diesel engines in the A6, writes PAUL POTTINGER
ADIESEL-FRIENDLY provision in Australia’s revised Luxury Car Tax is opening a new sales channel for Audi. It plans to use new engines and a price advantage to put extra spark into the A6 sedan and wagon when they are revamped next year.
Overall, prestige-car sales fell in September, with BMW and Mercedes going significantly backwards, but Audi’s result was up 26 per cent, off the back of the new A4 range. But in the next segment up the prestige tree, the ageing A6 continues to be outsold about three to one by BMW’s 5 Series.
That has prompted Audi Australia to consider two smaller diesel engines — the 2.0 TDI and 2.7 TDI V6 — in addition to the 12 Audi models of all types already scheduled for release between now and the end of next year.
They run the gamut from an A3 petrol hatch capable of 5.8 litres for 100km to the autobahn-storming Q7 with a V12 turbodiesel.
The rollout includes the first diesel version of the TT coupe and the vital Q5 compact SUV. The bigger Q7 will come standard with seven seats.
The Luxury Car Tax has been raised to 33 per cent on the portion of their price above $57,000, cars that use less than 7 litres/100km are tax exempt up to $75,000. Similarly efficient cars — such as the new A4 and A5 with the 3.0 TDI— are liable for the LCT only on the part of their price above $75,000.
‘‘Previously, we have not considered bringing the A6 in as a four-cylinder diesel or with the 2.7, but we are reviewing them now,’’ Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann says.
He is certain to price them with a view to the most popular 5 Series, the 520d at $81,000, which runs a four-cylinder turbodiesel.
Audi expects to top 9000 Australian sales this year and is aiming for 10,000 next year.
Despite the furore surrounding what he calls the ‘‘stupid and unfair’’ luxury-car tax, which has seen prestige car sales decline about 15 per cent since the start of the financial year, Hofmann says Audi is ‘‘flying’’.
After a record September in which it sold 804 cars to achieve 7405 year-to-date, Audi has already surpassed its sales for the whole of last year.
‘‘We have a micro-economy here in Australia so that even in a bloody difficult world environment we’re still working well. Even if the economy becomes worse, we are in a situation where we can grow,’’ Hofmann says. ‘‘I am 100 per cent sure of this.’’
Hofmann reaffirms Audi’s strategic target of surpassing BMW and Mercedes-Benz in Australia by 2015.
‘‘We are growing at 30 per cent year on year. Australia is easily Audi’s biggest growth market,’’ he says.
Audi has also embarked on a $160 million Australia-wide rollout of it’s so-called ‘‘Terminals’’. The world’s first of these imposing silver-painted dealerships opened earlier this year at Sydney’s Five Dock. One is also planned for Doncaster in Melbourne.
Small incentive: Audi’s A6 Allroad (above) could soon come in engines smaller in size than the 3.0-litre TDI (below).