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Audi concentrates on ‘fixing’ A6

Hit for 6: Audi's refreshed A6 range made its motor show debut at Paris earlier this month and includes the S6 performance variant (left).

Sales boss says more work is needed to boost Audi A6 in key markets against rivals

Audi logo10 Oct 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in PARIS

AUDI admits that there is still work to be done before the A6 achieves the sort of recognition around the world that rivals like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class enjoy.

Speaking to Australian media at the Paris motor show, Audi global sales chief Luca de Meo said that while the A4, A8 and niche models such as the A5 and A7 have helped established the brand, the nature of the A6 segment as “the centre of gravity” for premium manufacturers means nothing less than achieving your best is considered good enough.

While the former Alfa Romeo CEO would not talk specifics, he suggested the A6’s performance variants under the Audi Sport banner need to be more easily recognised in key markets where rivals such as the M5 are far stronger.

Audi’s new attitude to the A6 was clear at Paris, with the introduction of a facelifted version consisting of mild cosmetic revisions, modified suspension and steering, extensively updated multimedia features and improved ergonomics.

It also features an increase in standard specification, more powerful yet fuel efficient engines, and the introduction of the Ultra sub-brand that promotes maximum efficiency and low emissions.

“We have been for a long time an A4-segment-centric brand,” he said. “And then we had the A8 that pulled the brand up, and then the R8 became a dream car for many people and again improved the brand.

“And in the meantime, Audi introduced cars like the A5 and A7, and of course the A6 became stronger and stronger in volume, and we introduced the Q7, so we filled the gap between the first aluminium A8 and the A4 that was central to Audi.

“As the A6 segment is, to be very blunt, the central gravity for premium manufacturers… the game that we play there has to be the decisive one. And you need to see also a certain level of derivation. But I think there is still potential for us to do stuff in the A6 segment.

Mr de Meo said the A6 lags behind its main rivals in some key markets, including the United States, and highlighted the success of the S and RS variants in Australia as a way to boost the brand further.

“(Of course) you see that the A6 comes in most markets in the world sometimes ahead, sometimes behind. But because of the A7 and the new-gen A6, we managed to jump from the A4 to A6 credibly, but there is still work to be done, especially in the United States where we generally sell 50 per cent of the volume of BMW and Mercedes.

“We are trying to push the mix up. All the efforts that I see that are effective in Australia where the RS models are booming with the SQ5… this is part of our effort to bring Audi upmarket.

“And before you make the double jump I think there is still a lot of work to do to reinforce Audi, to move the central gravity of the brand to A6 segment. That would be my call.”

Mr de Meo said that a more consistent and progressive roll-out of performance variants would help Audi increase the brand awareness and eventually sales of the A6 range.

“My mission is to create more Audi sport thinking. There are a lot of things we didn’t do right on the RS I think the car came too late I think the car is not adapted to global demands but more for European demands we haven’t done enough of the right planning in terms of distributing the models’ introductions... this kind of thing we can no longer do.

“From a branding point of view this is one of the four pillars we are developing our branding strategy on – we have quattro, we have Ultra, we have Audi Sport and we have technology under e-tron.”

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