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Audi's aluminium attack

High-tech: The aluminium-bodied A2 joins Audi's line-up around December.

Audi's model onslaught continues this year with the launch of the A4 and A2

Audi logo26 Feb 2001

By PHILIP LORD

AUDI has significant model releases due towards the end of the year, with its volume seller, the all-new A4, due in November and the compact A2 expected in December.

The A4 is expected to make its debut here at the Sydney motor show in November and go on sale soon after.

Only a sedan variant will be offered initially, powered by a choice of 2.0-litre four-cylinder and 3.0-litre V6 engines.

The current Avant wagon will continue on for six months, when its replacement will arrive.

Audi Australia marketing manager Patrick Collins said the new A4 would be Audi's most important release this year.

"The A4's Audi's bread and butter. It's a very competitive segment. We feel pretty confident that the new A4 will hold its own." The next car from Audi will be A-class competitor the A2.

At the moment only a 1.4-litre manual is available but another more enticing opportunity is looming, Mr Collins said.

"We're talking to Germany about the possibility of a 1.6, if it eventuates it won't be this year," he said.

"We're still keeping our options open. It hasn't quite crystalised yet, in terms of specification and timing." Mr Collins believes there is a niche waiting to be filled by the A2.

"We plan to sell reasonable volume of the vehicle. A 1.4 manual has a more limiting market. The 1.6-litre auto has more marketing opportunity.

"The A-class has demonstrated that there is a market for that kind of vehicle. We don't think the A2 will sell as well as, say, the A3, but not too far behind it," he said.

The A2 will take on a particular role in the Audi stable.

"From a strategic perspective, the A2 is another hero model which again typifies Audi's position of challenging the traditional. It's the first mass-produced aluminium vehicle," Mr Collins said.

Astre confident of joint-venture project AUDI importer Astre Automotive is confident that its 50-50 joint-venture discussions with Audi AG will be successful when the proposal comes up for approval at the Audi board meeting in Germany next month.

Marketing manager Patrick Collins said: "We're very confident the joint-venture will come through.

"Unfortunately it must have the rubber stamp of the supervisory board in Germany, who meet quarterly. They are due to meet sometime in March. We hope that then will be the opportunity to make the public announcement." Two years ago Astre's relationship with Audi was not so rosy.

Reports at the time suggested Audi Germany had given Astre the ultimatum to move 3000 cars in 2000 or the contract would not be renewed. VFACTS shows that Astre just reached the target with 3016 cars.

Audi Australia's public relations manager Anna Burgdorf said rumours Audi would go under the Volkswagen umbrella here were unfounded. "They see more benefits from staying with Astre - we've now put in the groundwork," she said.

"We see this will have benefits with incremental production, better service where parts from Germany or Singapore is concerned. And it is further confidence from Audi in the way we've been approaching the business in Australia."

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