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Audi eyes new ‘green’ models

Right on cue: Audi hopes the new Q5 will add up to 1500 annual sales.

New LCT’s fuel consumption clause brings a range of unseen diesels onto Audi's radar

14 Oct 2008

AUDI Australia is considering a range of new diesel model variants to take advantage of the ‘green’ component of the new luxury car tax (LCT) it describes as “stupid”.

While the new LCT system lifted the tax rate, from 25 to 33 per cent, on the proportion of a vehicle’s transaction price above $57,180 from July 1, it also exempted models priced under $75,000 that also return 7.0L/100km or less.

In effect, the most expensive models that return better than 7.0L/100km benefit the most from the new LCT structure, which is why BMW’s 520d diesel was the subject of a circa-$5000 price cut and why BMW Australia is also considering imports of previously unseen diesel models including the 330d.

Among the models expected to join the local Audi line-up are the A4 2.7 TDI, TT Coupe 2.0 TDI, A6 2.0 TDI and A6 2.7 TDI, while the A5 3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic is confirmed for local showrooms from November. It produces 176kW yet returns 6.6L/100km and is priced at $93,894.

The 140kW A4 2.7 TDI multitronic returns average fuel consumption of 6.5L/100km, while the 125kW TT Coupe 2.0 TDI manual returns 5.3L/100km, making both models exempt under the new LCT regime. Audi says up to 35 per cent of A4 sales could be diesel next year as a result.

Other Audi models that would also be significantly cheaper as a result of the LCT, and which are therefore also under evaluation for sale here, include the facelifted A6 sedan in both 125kW 2.0 TDI multitronic (5.8L/100km) and 140kW 2.7 TDI multitronic (6.2L/100km) guises.

7 center imageLeft: Audi A5, S4, TT Coupe 2.0 TDI, RS6 and Q7 V12 TDI.

Priced around the same as the circa-$76,000 BMW 520d, the A6 2.0 TDI is expected to earn an additional 200 annual sales for Audi, or about 30 per cent of the 700 total annual A6 sales forecast.

Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann, who described the ‘green’ clause as “a good exemption within a stupid tax”, said Audi’s factory-backed campaign to absorb the eight per cent LCT hike while its protracted debate in the Senate took place was central to the brand’s sustained sales growth this year.

While other luxury brands have experienced sharp sales declines (and sales of all ‘luxury’ cars are down 15 per cent) in July, August and September, Audi Australia’s sales remain 30.1 per cent up so far in 2008 – the highest year-on-year sales growth posted by an Audi subsidiary in the world.

In terms of the fastest growing Audi markets, Australia has now overtaken China (18.8 per cent growth YTD), Middle East (16.9 per cent) and Russia (15.5), and is well up on Audi’s 2.8 per cent global growth rate.

“Nobody would have predicted that four years ago in a mature market,” said Mr Hofmann. Audi Australia became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Audi AG in 2004 and has almost tripled its sales since then.

Meantime, Audi’s US sales are down by 3.9 per cent to 65,817 to September this year, meaning the American market will fall short of its stated 100,000 sales target in 2008, although Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said at this month’s Paris motor show the Volkswagen luxury division remained on target to achieve one million global sales for the first time this year.

To September, Audi’s worldwide sales numbered 761,500 and were on track to break the company’s 964,151 sales record set in 2007, when Audi posted a record before-tax profit of 2.91 billion Euro ($A5.6 billion) – a 49.8 per cent increase on 2006 figures. Audi sold just 376,000 cars in 1994.

Audi Australia says it will sell more than a record 9000 vehicles this year - representing a 25 per cent sales growth on 2007, when it sold 7225 vehicles. Audi has already surpassed that figure in the nine months of this year, with 7405 sales - almost 2000 sales up on Lexus, for the first time.

It has targeted a 16.2 per cent market share and 10,000 sales for the first time in 2009, and has a mid-term goal of 15,000 sales in 2015. “If the market goes back to normal we may crack 11,000,” Mr Hofmann told GoAuto.

Next year’s all-new Q5 compact SUV is expected to inject up to an extra 1500 sales per annum for Audi Australia, while the all-new A1 micro-car, which does on sale in Europe in early 2009 but is not expected Down Under until 2010, should further boost Audi’s incremental sales prospects.

“At a time when Australians could little afford increased taxes, the passage of the LCT through the Senate in September was frustrating for the Australian automotive industry, however, we will continue to fight hard to increase our sales in Australia, proving that the Audi brand is competitive even in difficult market conditions,” said Mr Hofmann.

“We made the decision to cover the proposed LCT increase of eight per cent for our customers from July 1, at a significant cost to our business, however, we believed it was the right way to support our buyers at a time of great confusion in Australia.

“Our strategy was clearly the correct one and our sales continued to grow whilst our competitors found themselves with declining sales,” said Mr Hofmann, who said the campaign cost Audi AG more than $1 million.

Audi this month also added two new engines to its redesigned A4 sedan range – the 2.0 TFSI and 3.0 TDI. The former is available in both 132kW front-drive multitronic and 155kW quattro all-wheel drive manual guises.

The A4 2.0 TFSI multitronic comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and Bluetooth, and is priced at $58,537. The A4 2.0 TFSI quattro manual adds Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, front parking sensors, powered front seats and a colour MMI screen, and costs $70,189.

Now repositioned $15,000 upstream but $4259 less than the flagship A4 3.2 FSI quattro tiptronic ($90,315) is the A4 3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic ($86,056). The most powerful diesel A4 delivers 176kW and 500Nm, returns 6.9L/100km and sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 6.2 seconds – one-tenth slower than the A5 3.0 TDI.

In other Audi news, the Q7 luxury SUV now features seven seats as standard from the 2009 model year (five-seaters remain a no-cost option), reflecting the overwhelming demand. Also new for MY2009 is the Smart Beam high beam assistance function, which works in conjunction with Xenon headlights and costs $318. Four-zone air-conditioning has also been added to the $7203 Technik package for Q7 V6 variants.

While a 2.0 TDI version of the Q7 may also been on the horizon, at the other end of the fuel consumption spectrum is next year’s Q7 V12 TDI – Audi’s most powerful diesel production car and the world’s most powerful production SUV. Audi Oz says it holds “a handful” of orders for the 1000Nm uber-SUV, which will be priced in the “high-$200,000s”.

What’s coming from Audi:
A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI S tronic October
S3 Sportback 2.0 TFSI quattro manual October
A4 2.0 TFSI multitronic October
A4 2.0 TFSI quattro manual October
A4 3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic October
RS6 Avant quattro tiptronic October
A5 Coupe 3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic November
A6 3.0 TFSI quattro tiptronic First quarter 2009
RS6 sedan First quarter 2009
S4 sedan/Avant Second quarter 2009
Q5 Second quarter 2009
Q7 V12 TDI Second quarter 2009
TT 2.0 TDI Second quarter 2009
A1 2010
New ‘Green’ cars also on the way:
A4 2.7 TDI multitronic
TT Coupe 2.0 TDI manual
A5 3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic
A6 2.0 TDI multitronic
A6 2.7 TDI multitronic

Read more:

Luxury car tax hike all but official

LCT hangs in balance

LCT compromise on the cards as sales plummet

Senate hears final LCT pleas

LCT battle enters final phase

FCAI warns Senate on LCT


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