Audi covets top spot
Audi is on track to beat its prestige competitors, writes PAUL GOVER
AUDI plans to be Australia’s No.1 prestige brand by the end of 2015 with sales of more than 15,000 cars a year. rush of new models in recent years has ensured a solid run of doubledigit growth, including a 12 per cent improvement in showroom results in the first half of this year at a time when the prestige segment is down 12 per cent.
The German brand aims for 10,000 sales this year despite the global economic crisis, and says Australians are flocking to Audi.
‘‘We are already ahead of target,’’ Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann says.
‘‘In 2004, the Audi franchise was certainly not the most attractive one. We were 20th, 24th, 18th . . . now we are No.1 or No.2.
‘‘If we crack 10,000 this year, which I believe we will, then it is very unlikely we will get another year of 30 per cent growth because the base gets higher and higher. But we will have another record year next year. I’m very confident.’’
Audi must pass BMW and Mercedes-Benz to hit the target, but Hofmann says there are signs of worry in the rival camps.
‘‘These people they are bit desperate sometimes, they can’t understand why we are so successful,’’ he says.
‘‘Fair enough, we can smile about it because we overtake them all very soon. They start throwing dirt and say we discount and whatever kind of crap comes to their mind. I’m bored about it. We just move on and in two or three years we are ahead of all of them.’’
The Audi model rush continues this year with the arrival of the TT RS coupe in October, with a 2.5-litre turbo engine and 250kW, and a V12 diesel version of the giant Q7 SUV.
November will bring an S5 cabriolet with a supercharged V6 engine, followed by the five-door A5 sportback hatch early next year.
‘‘Audi has always had great products, even five or six years ago,’’ Hofmann says.
‘‘The problem was the brand was not perceived the way it should be. The marketing was wrong, the dealership was wrong, the organising of the people was wrong. These are the factors we fixed when we took over the business here.’’
Hofmann says Audi will continue to post record sales this year and next.
It is also solidly back in the black after years of losses. Hofmann says the latest financial result is $1.7 million ahead of budget.
‘‘We reached break-even two years earlier than anticipated. And for the past two years we have been on a solid, profitable path.
‘‘We will have the most profitable year this year. We achieve our financial budget to Germany by more than million.’’
Hofmann’s forecast comes as the brand’s giant $50 million Lighthouse headquarters was officially opened in Sydney.
The eight-storey complex houses everything from the brand headquarters to a dealership and ‘‘performance space’’ for artists.