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Audi Australia aims for No.1

High-performance: Audi has recorded a 171 per cent increase in sports model sales over last year.

Audi Australia in anniversary push to pass its German rivals

Audi logo30 Sep 2014

By RICHARD BERRY

AUDI Australia is marking its 10th anniversary as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Audi AG by setting a goal of overtaking the sales of rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The company says that a decade of consecutive growth has seen it move to almost within striking distance of the other two premium Germans with Audi's local boss saying it is on track to being number one.

Sales until the end of August have Mercedes-Benz on 19,887, up by 11.8 per cent, BMW at 14,786, up by 10.7 per cent, and Audi on 12,772. But Audi is growing at nearly double the rate of its premium European competitors with an increase of 18.5 per cent this year.

Additionally, Mercedes-Benz is actually at 17,060 units when its commercial sales are stripped out.

Speaking at the launch of the new S1 Sportback last week managing director Andrew Doyle said the company expected to sell another 7000 vehicles within the next four months.

“We’ll finish this year well above 19,000,” he said. “We’ll probably have a growth that’s almost 20 per cent and we’re rapt. That’s enough for this year. It sets us up really nicely for 2015 and we’ve got great plans for next year as well.” Mr Doyle said that an Australian desire for high-performance cars meant that Audi sports model volume was growing faster than overall volume.

 center image Left: Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle. “Back in 2012 we had about three per cent of our total volume in the high performance cars categories. Now 14 percent of our total volume year-to-date August is sport models.” Year-to-date sales, until the end of August, show Audi has sold 1744 S, RS and R models, up 171 per cent of the previous year’s 643 sales. This compares with BMW with 638 M car sales this year (up 53 per cent) and Benz’s sales of 1777 AMG units (up 109 per cent), while beating them both in growth.

Mr Doyle said Audi has shown stronger growth than both Mercedes and BMW over the past decade but would not settle for remaining number three forever.

“That’s not our goal. Our goal over the next two to three years is to definitely move up a position into second and of course our longer-term objective is to be the number-one premium brand in Australia.

“We think it makes a lot of sense – we are number one throughout the whole of Western Europe and we are number one throughout China.” Globally Audi has sold 1.139 million cars until the end of August this year representing a 10.5 per cent growth overall. The company’s chairman Rupert Stadler predicted recently that more than 1.7 million cars would be sold by the end of 2014.

China, Germany and the United States are the top three biggest-selling countries for Audi. Australia moved from 18th place at the finish of 2013, just 100 units behind South Africa, to its current position of 14th. “(Australians) like to beat the South Africans in everything we do, including car sales, so we’re trying to get them before the end of the year,” Mr Doyle said.

“What’s important for us is that we become more significant globally for Audi, that we’re not just in the top 20, but we’re pushing more and more towards the top 10 – which is the big number. Hopefully one day we’ll even get into the top 10. But for now we’re really pleased with our growth this year.” But Mr Doyle warned that peaks in sales were not as important as sustainable growth generated by building brand awareness, investing in the dealer network and earning customer loyalty.

“I’d much rather have a customer perfectly looked after and sell one less car because we’ve taken the effort to make sure our loyalty is as strong as it is than chase another sale,” he said.

He said Audi dealers were continuing to invest in new facilities.

This year new dealerships were opened in Hobart, Tasmania and Richmond, Victoria. The Audi Centre Melbourne is receiving a $25 million upgrade and work on a building in Doncaster, Victoria, was well under way. Audi Centre Sydney had tripled its capacity according to Mr Doyle with new premises soon opening next door to its current Zetland, NSW, facility.

Meanwhile Mr Doyle reiterated that the Luxury Car Tax continues to disadvantage higher-end car buyers and while the premium market in Australia was growing there was a potential for it to grow more than it was.

“The premium market as we calculate it is roughly eight percent or so of the total market in Australia. In other markets across Europe … it’s about double that.

“And now that we – as sad as it is – don’t have a local industry, there’s nothing to protect in that respect so we should be allowing Australian consumers to purchase the best quality, most efficient and safest vehicles at a competitive price without being penalised.

“The positive is that the premium market is growing, however, I would like to see it grow even more.”

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