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Audi Australia prepares for sales resurgence

Waiting game: The A1 light car (left) and Q3 small SUV (below) will look to increase Audi Australia’s sales volume when they launch in the fourth quarter this year.

WLTP delays critical new-generation A1, Q3 as Audi Australia plans for sales growth

Audi logo26 Mar 2019

AUDI Australia says it is hoping to arrest its sales downturn when the high-volume second-generation A1 light car and Q3 small SUV make their way into showrooms about six months later than expected due to production delays.
 
Speaking to GoAuto this week at the Audi Driving Experience 2019 national media launch at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Audi Australia corporate communications manager Shaun Cleary said the WLTP testing standard recently introduced in Europe has impacted launch plans – and sales – Down Under.
 
“We have had some product delays,” he said. “Specifically, we’ve had A1 and Q3 that have moved to the fourth quarter of this year.
 
“We’ll also see the e-tron (battery-electric mid-size SUV) launch early next year, which is (pushed back) from where it was (mid-year).
 
“While WLTP doesn’t specifically relate to Australia, it’s the accepted homologation standard (in Europe).
 
“For Audi, it’s the volume of homologation with new product globally being rolled out. Clearly, there’s a task to get all those models homologated.
 
“Naturally, the priority falls to bigger markets with the greater volumes, as you can imagine, which means there’s been some delays for us.”
 
Audi Australia’s sales to the end of February have declined by 27.3 per cent, to 2465 units, but Mr Cleary said the company is prepared for the challenges this year will bring.
 
“There’s a bit of a correction on sales numbers,” he said in regard to the overall premium new-vehicle market. “From our point of view, we’ve had a few delays.
 
“A1 and Q3, in particular, runout of those models has been going extremely well, so there is going to be a gap between the previous models and the new ones arriving. In terms of our numbers, that will affect them.”
 
Sales of the A1 are down 12.0 per cent in the year to date, to 139 units, while the Q3’s volume has dipped by 43.8 per cent, to 159 units.
 
A1 and Q3 stock may run dry in less than six months, meaning a significant hole could be left in Audi Australia’s model line-up, depending on exactly when their replacement models launch, but Mr Cleary was confident growth will be achieved soon after.
 
“We’re prepared for what that market’s going to do at different points in the year,” he said. “We’re in a strong position.
 
“We know what we have coming. In some cases, it’s going to be a little bit later than we’d planned, but we know that when it does all arrive, it’s going to be really strong for us, so we’ll be expecting growth by that stage.”
 
WLTP has also affected longstanding models, namely the RS3 small car that has not been in production since August last year, with Mr Clearly saying there is not “an enormous amount” of stock still available, although this lull in supply will soon come to an end.
 
“I believe that global production has resumed, as expected, early this year” he said. “In terms of a local launch date for us, we don’t actually have confirmed timing just yet.
 
“Again, related to WLTP and prioritising markets. Obviously … we would be pretty happy to see it again, as soon as we can.”
 
Despite the low stock levels of its performance flagship, sales of the A3 have been relatively steady to the end of February, declining by 14.8 per cent to 658 units, enough to maintain its position as Audi Australia’s best-selling model.
 
Nonetheless, the low-volume fifth-generation A6 large car and facelifted R8 remain on track for their launches in the middle of the year and the fourth quarter respectively.
 
The updated TT sportscar is also due before 2020, possibly alongside the Q2 small SUV’s new performance flagship, the SQ2.
 
Meanwhile, additional variants of recently introduced models, such as the A7 large car’s 45 TFSI and Q8 large SUV’s 50 TDI, are also entering Australian showrooms in 2019. The former and latter models have sold 23 and 38 examples respectively in the year to date.
 
Asked if variants of the Q7 large SUV fitted with a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine are still suspended from sale due to the previously reported AdBlue engineering issue, having been so since October last year, Mr Cleary said the pair is “not currently available”.
 
“At the moment, the best information we have is that it will be resuming sale in June,” he said.
 
The loss of the volume-selling 160kW and 200kW 3.0 TDI variants has led to sales of the Q7 plunging by 89.7 per cent, to just 42 units, to the end of February. Comparatively, the rival BMW X5 has sold 491 examples during the same period.
 
Further stimulation could come from the returning SQ5 TDI, which was revealed in second-generation form last month and proved to be very popular during its first tenure, although the SQ5 TFSI that is already available has a similar share.
 
The Q5 mid-size SUV is Audi Australia’s second best-selling model, although the 597 examples sold in the year to date represent an 18.8 per cent decrease over the 735 deliveries made during the same period in 2018.
 
The refreshed A4 mid-size car (206 units, -1.0%) quietly lobbed last month, while the fourth-generation A8 upper-large car (three) went on sale in July last year.

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