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Audi A8 axed, more to follow

Audi will no longer sell its flagship ‘normal’ limousine, instead opting only for the sportier S8

19 Oct 2023

AUDI Australia is set to rationalise its internal-combustion-engine (ICE) model range, and the cuts have already begun – the A8 luxury limousine will be killed off for 2024, leaving the S8 as the only version available.


The company has listened to customer feedback for the A8 and found that the model will no longer be viable for the Australian market, as the pre-existing buyer has moved towards a product like the Q7 or Q8 SUV instead – and those who want a large luxury sedan also want more performance, and are willing and able to pay for the extra $80K or so to cover the gap between the existing A8 and S8.


Matthew Dale, Audi Australia head of product, said it was not a decision taken lightly to end the A8’s almost-30-year run as part of the range. 


“For model year 2024, the A8 – we’ve parked that. We just have S8. Because that’s basically what the dealer feedback was: we get customers on S8,” he said.


“And traditionally the A8 was also like a corporate limousine, but they’re even starting to migrate into the luxury Q7s, Q8s, just sheer versatility – people’s luggage is obviously getting bigger, they’re taking more things overseas. Those cars make more sense for commercial hire-car purchases.


“So naturally, we’ve seen that progression. Remember, it was only four years ago, 2019, we were launching the new D5 A8, which was an all-new car.


“Short- and long-wheelbase, and an S8 that came later. Other markets have done that as well. You’ll see in the Asia-Pacific S8 is still there, but A8 has slowly dwindled away, and the Q7 and Q8 range has increased.”


Mr Dale said the company is also assessing other model lines, and that further rationalisation and simplification of the ICE model lines is going to happen.


“Regardless of what way we look at it, simplification is one of those things – when you’ve got all new models coming into the range, we need to simplify what we’ve got,” he said.


“The thing is, we’re always listening to our customers, and our dealers. So, we’ve created a strategic approach internally that we go out and have (discussions) with dealer groups, so we’ve got a dealer product group as an example.


“We do customer clinics and allow that data to inform our plans. Because if we don’t, we’re just sitting in an office making decisions that may not be right.


“So, listening to our customers, who are also our dealers, and gaining that data to inform our plans, that naturally starts to simplify that range; because there’s a lot of feedback coming from customers on electrification, as an example, (those customers and dealers) really want to see a small SUV electrified.


“That’s Q4, and that was part of the business case to bolster that to get that car to market, he continued.


“So, that’s naturally going to see a whole new model, set right in between Q3 and Q5. And then we now need to look at both Q3 and Q5 and ask customers and dealers, ‘what makes sense’, now that you’ve got no new model sitting in between, and you might have three, four or five variants there...


“So, what would make sense to top and tail, because they need to be simplified because he can't keep growing the range.”


Mr Dale indicated that further changes will come to other models in the range, such as the A6. For the model-year 2024 line-up, there is still an extensive number of models – the A6 sedan comes in 40 TFSI, 45 TFSI, 55 TFSI and the S6, while the Avant wagon body style consists of the 45 TDI Allroad, and the RS6.


The company knows there aren’t thousands of customers for each of those model lines, but Mr Dale admits that some models will remain part of the line-up because there are loyal customers that demand such cars – the Allroad high-riding wagon models being a perfect example.


“We’ve got A4 or A6 Allroad; the customers that come in on those cars are Allroad customers through and through. They don’t want a general passenger car, but they don’t want an SUV. And if you don’t have that, they go looking elsewhere, and they’re very tribal customers,” he said.


“It’s hard for us to make that decision to say we’re going to cancel Allroad, because that customer is important to us. They might have a second Audi – it might be an A1 or an A3 in the garage. But that’s where we kind of look further into the data to say okay, what’s the customer feedback?”


Mr Dale said the complexity of model lines also impacts parts on hand and stocking requirements, and those are also under consideration when the company is looking to make changes to different product ranges, such as the A6 line.


“We’re always looking at the market trends, and large sedan has tapered down,” he explained.


“There will be progressive steps using customer data to say, okay, well, what makes sense moving forward? It might be Allroad and RS6, or an S model as well, and maybe one ‘normal’ model rather than three.


“Because powertrains are a big thing – most of the R&D goes into powertrains, and if you can simplify that and simplify the offer it still gives customers choice of a ‘normally’ powered ICE, but then two performance models and the Allroad for that loyal customer.


“So, you will see that natural simplification over time, especially when new models come.”


The news comes despite the fact the brand is reworking its model lines, with a move towards fully electrified models bearing ‘even’ numbers as part of their model names, while ‘odd’ models will be the ICE lines.


That is a longer-term play, though, with the brand having just added the Q8 e-tron (the vehicle formerly known simply as e-tron) to its high-end SUV model, which now possesses one of the most diverse line-ups of any car in Australia.

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