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Audi Australia sees positive road ahead

Helping hand: The arrival of the new Q3 (left) and A6 (below) will help Audi Australia bounce back from a lacklustre start to 2019.

‘Unprecedented’ number of model launches, end of WLTP delays bode well for Audi

6 Aug 2019

AUDI Australia believes an “unprecedented” number of new models arriving in the next 12 months, combined with WLTP-related delays slowly coming to an end, will reverse its current sales downturn and help it to a strong finish to the year – and beyond.


VFACTS figures released this week show that Audi’s sales have fallen by a steep 32.7 per cent to the end of July this year, the 8056 new registrations almost 4000 units off last year’s running rate when it had recorded 11,976 sales at this point.


Audi finished last year with 19,416 sales, down 11.8 per cent on 2017 for its second consecutive annual decline after a long period of growth.


In an interview with GoAuto in Sydney last week, Audi Australia managing director Paul Sansom said the main reason for what he described as a “disappointing” downturn in the first half of 2019 – which saw the prestige German brand’s sales down 32.2 per cent on 7198 units – was a combination of the WLTP fuel reclassification issues and run-out of key models such as the A1 hatch and Q3 small SUV, replacements for which are still to arrive.


As previously reported, the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) does not specifically relate to Australian importation but is now the accepted standard in Europe, forcing Audi AG to prioritise homologation in bigger-volume countries over smaller markets such as ours.


“The primary reason for our downturn is restrictions and delays that flow from the WLTP changeover in Europe that you will all know about,” Mr Sansom said.


“For us in Australia, we enjoyed a very successful run-out of our popular Audi A1 and Q3 much earlier this year, and due to the delays in these new models, they won’t arrive for another couple of months yet, so we’ve had quite a gap.


“We’ve also experienced several other interruptions across our range of models that have affected our sales potential so far in 2019. And the impact of these has been significant.”


Just one example of the Q3 went through the industry’s sales reporting service last month, compared to 207 in July last year, leaving the important model with only 214 sales for the entire year thus far – down 84.6 per cent, or 1177 units – as the Australian distributor continues to wait for the new generation.


Sales of the A1 have also run dry, with none recorded last month and only 201 for the year compared to 682 at this point 12 months ago (-70.5%).


Mr Sansom said the performance of existing models such as the Q2, A3, A4 and A5 have been promising, with an increase in market share, despite sales of the majority of its models falling in year-to-date terms.


He also said there is light at the end of the tunnel, with a swathe of new product described as “unprecedented” set to turn around the fortunes of the Ingolstadt brand.


“We’re well-equipped and prepared to get back on sale across all of our range in the second half of the year and 2020,” he said.


“And it brings enormous potential for us in the second half of the year starting from August.


“So stay tuned for a lot of news coming for us over these next days and weeks. From today, until probably around this time next year, we’ve got probably an unprecedented number of products arriving here in Australia.


“That’s I suppose the only positive I can say coming out of these delays that we’ve experienced, that at some point everything catches up, and we’re really excited about the avalanche of products that are coming our way from today onwards over the next 12 months.”


Along with the A1 and Q3, the new-model assault will continue with the likes of the all-new A6 large car, updated A4 medium sedan and Q7 large SUV, the inaugural Q3 Sportback and Audi’s all-electric E-tron SUV, which Mr Sansom said will now arrive in the second quarter of 2020.


“The worldwide demand for that car has been really strong, so our launch is planned for mid-year next year and we’re making all the preparations and we’ll be ready to bring that car to market next year,” he said.


He added that the success of the E-tron Down Under could influence the rollout of other electrified models in Australia, however he expected it to be a hit here.


“We’ll move at the pace where there’s demand,” he said. “We’ll work on where the market’s at and where the consumer demand is but we expect it to grow pretty significantly over the coming years as consumers move towards these new drivetrains.


“We’re seeing it all over the rest of the world, so there’s no reason to think consumers in Australia won’t adopt the same drivetrains as well.”


On the performance, side, Mr Sansom announced there would be five new Audi Sport models arriving in the next 12 months, two of which will be all-new entrants for the brand in Australia.


The three established Audi Sport models – all of which are amid a generational change – are the RS6 Avant wagon, RS7 Sportback sedan and RS Q3 small SUV.


The two unreleased models are likely to come from the SUV family, with Audi Sport managing director Oliver Hoffman recently announcing plans for all Audi SUVs to feature an RS variant.


The most likely candidates are the mechanically related Q7 and Q8, the former to be updated next year and the latter released locally for the first time in December last year.

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