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A7 to spawn new Audi model family

Family car: The forthcoming Audi A7 Sportback will be just one of a range A7 models.

Audi says its new sister brand, Porsche, is no real rival as it plans new A2 and A7

21 Aug 2009

EXPECT to see two-door, four-door and convertible versions of the all-new A7 – and for Audi and Porsche to “live perfectly together” within the Volkswagen Group – if comments by Audi’s sales and marketing boss are any guide.

Audi board member Peter Schwarzenbauer, who was in Australia yesterday for the opening of the company’s new $50 million national head office in Sydney, said the two-door A5 Coupe, Cabriolet and upcoming five-door Sportback model range was likely to be echoed by the A6-based A7, which emerged as a concept at this year’s Detroit motor show and is due for global release in 2011.

He also confirmed there would be a successor to the original A2, which was a relatively expensive small alloy-bodied hatchback not sold in Australia, likely to be based on the upcoming A1 micro-car.

“If you look at our current line-up, we announced we are going to bring the A1 (and) if you look between the A1 and A3 there is still a hole (and) between the A6 and the A8 there is some room where we could envision something, so there are still some areas where we see some potential.

“I think we have shown (with the A5 range) that there’s a lot of potential and creativity amongst our engineers, so I think you can expect some variations of A2 and A7 in the future without going into more details right now,” he said..

Mr Schwarzenbauer reaffirmed Audi’s commitment to expand its current line-up of 32 main global models to 40 by 2015, meaning eight additional Audi models to be launched in the next six years.

7 center imageLeft: Audi TT Roadstar. Below: Porsche Boxster.

“We have currently 32 models on the worldwide market,” he said. “But by 2015 we will have 40 models in the market and we are investing every year €2 billion ($A3.45b) into new product development until 2015 and – this is very important – out of our own cashflow, so we don’t have to ask a third party for it.

“We are the only car manufacturer I know of right now that can says that. This is why I believe our diversification into more and more niches and more models will make us even stronger, because our product portfolio is going to be so much stronger than our competitors.”

However, Audi’s global sales and marketing chief admitted the company’s focus on niche models, which he claims is driven by customer demand, comes at the expense of production complexity.

“It’s not because we as a manufacturer want to go into so many niches and our production people certainly don’t like this too much because it puts a lot of complexity into the system,” he said.

“But on the other hand if you look out in the market this is what the consumer wants. They don’t want to drive around in the same car. They want to be individual – they want to have different options in their cars with different touch and feeling. So if this is the case we have to deliver this.

“This makes us quite convinced that our strategy is working so well I think that we will be the winner of this crisis. The main reason I am saying this is that we decided that almost despite what is going on around us to continue our investment plan into new products.”

Mr Schwarzenbauer dismissed suggestions that Audi’s new model proliferation would result in even more competition with its newly anointed sister company Porsche, which is now part of the Volkswagen Group and which has also been earmarked for additional model expansion.

“They co-existed pretty well over the last 10 years,” he said. “We’re not really competitors.

“Porsche had a product portfolio and Audi had one and of course we do a lot of cross-shopping research not only with Porsche but also BMW and Mercedes, and the cross-shopping towards Porsche is very, very minimal. It’s far below five per cent, which is basically nothing, so why would we change just because maybe the owner structure has changed?“Porsche has a bright future … Audi on the other side has too and I think we can live perfectly together. They have the Boxster in the market, we have the TT Roadster. They have the Cayenne, we have the Q7. They are both successful.

“I think sometimes people are putting more into this whole story than is really behind it. I truly think that the Porsche customer mindset is different to the Audi customer’s. I think we can have similar products in the market and both being successful. The same thing can be said between VW and Audi and it’s working.”

The Audi AG board member said he expected co-development of new models between Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche – such as the platform-sharing arrangement that underpinned each brand’s current SUV model – to expand under Volkswagen’s control of Porsche.

“Collaboration we have already now,” he said. “We are working together on hybrid technology. We did together the project Cayenne, Q7 and Touareg, and I think on the product side there are a lot of opportunities for us to work together and I’m sure this will expand,” he said.

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