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Niche-mad Audi multiplies

Audi avalanche: The A1 Sportback Concept is the shape of niche things to come from Audi.

Audi to expand its model line from 26 to 42 over the next four years

20 Jul 2009

AUDI will increase its model line-up by about 60 per cent as it strives to reach the 1.5 million annual global sales target set for 2015.

Dubbed ‘Route 15’ internally, the volume drive also includes a 15,000-vehicle sales goal in Australia by the same year.

Of the planned 42 models on the product planner’s drawing board, Audi is looking at importing about 38 to Australia by 2015.

However, none of these are expected to be the upcoming hybrid diesel/electric models under development, as Audi has said it will not market such vehicles until at least 2014.

Currently, Audi has about 26 distinct models, including S versions of core series such as the A3, A4, A6 and TT, as well as a multiplying number of RS cars such as the TT version arriving late this year.

Underpinning this growth more than ever will be breakaway niche vehicles such as the A5 Sportback revealed last week on the occasion of the company’s 100th anniversary.

Based on the A4 platform that has also spawned the A5 Coupe and upcoming Cabriolet (due in September), the A5 Sportback is expected in Australia during the first quarter of 2010.

This is to be followed by myriad new models, from the next-generation A8 luxury limousine slated for a November unveiling, to the hotly anticipated A1.

7 center imageFrom top: Sportback concept, A5 Sportback and the Cross Coupe quattro concept (bottom).

Pencilled in for Australia in 2011 after a probable Paris motor show debut in September 2010, the diminutive hatchback will be aimed directly at BMW’s highly successful Mini.

Also in the pipeline, and due over the next two and a half years, are the A7 ‘coupe sedan’ shown at this year’s North American International Auto Show as the Sportback Concept, as well as the next-generation C7-series A6 that sires the A7.

Reports out of Europe say Audi is also devising an A7 Cabriolet, although the many engineering challenges involved in creating an open-top version of a four-door sedan may ultimately scupper such a project.

Following on from the A6/7 fraternal twins will be the ultra-compact Q3 SUV derived from the next, third-generation A3.

As usual, the latter will share its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Golf, but it is thought that a four-door sedan will join the next A3 three-door hatch, five-door A3 Sportback and A3 Cabrio.

The sedan will take on the long-rumoured BMW 1 Series sedan that the Bavarians are believed to be brewing when that car has its generation change in two years time.

Slotting under the increasingly larger A4 sedan, and sharing some mechanical components with the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf-based Jetta sedan expected in about 2012 or 2013, the A3 sedan might wear the now-defunct A2 badge.

Rumours out of Europe are already hinting at a resurrection of the A2 badge for such a model – even though the last A2 was a radical aluminium-bodied hatch built on an expensive space-frame and aimed at the Mercedes-Benz A-class. Although a sales flop when launched in 2000 in Europe (partly because of its high price), the old A2 is now considered a model ahead of its time.

Speaking to English magazine Autocar earlier this year, Audi research and development chief Michael Dick revealed that an A2 be “bigger than the (Volkswagen) Up (concept) — at least as big as the A1, but with a different body style”.

Calling the sedan an A2 would be in keeping with Audi’s even-numbered sedan policy, while the more coupe-like three-door and Sportback five-door hatchback versions will retain the A3 nomenclature.

Under this alphanumerical naming regime, an A1-based sedan would be called the A0 if it were to be developed.

One Audi insider told GoAuto that, with the increase to 42 models by 2015, a major change or turnover of Audi models would happen every few months.

Every major model line will also include a diesel variant.

“The market will be more niche in the future,” proclaimed Audi Australian marketing genenral manager Immo Buschmann.

What's coming from Audi:
A5/S5 Cabriolet September 2009
Q7 TDI V12 Fourth quarter 2009
TT RS Fourth quarter 2009
A8 Mk4 Second Half 2010
A1 Early 2011
A7 2011
A6 Mk7 2011/2012
Q3 SUV 2012
A3 Mk3 2012/2013
Q7 Mk2 2013/2014
A2 2014
TT Mk3 2015

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