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Audi surges ahead with record profit

Blue sky: Audi AG chairman Rupert Stadler announced a record profit of $A4.3 billion.

Global downturn fails to slow rampant Audi sales and bold future model plans

Audi logo11 Mar 2009

By DAVID HASSALL

AUDI has underscored its rampant global growth by announcing a record after-tax profit of €2.2 billion ($A4.3 billion) for 2008 in the face of the world recession.

The German powerhouse sold more than one million vehicles for the first time, but has warned of a 10 per cent downturn this year due to the parlous state of the US market.

Nevertheless, Audi AG chairman Rupert Stadler told reporters in Ingolstadt that the company could emerge even stronger as it continues to improve its market share in the US and throughout Europe.

“We have every prospect of emerging from the crisis in an even stronger position,” said Mr Stadler.

Although Audi sales in January-February were down 25.4 per cent in the US (against an industry down more than 34 per cent), its market share increased from 6.3 to 7.1 per cent, while figures for Western Europe show an increase from 4.0 to 4.9 per cent in the first two months of 2009.

Overall, Audi sold 20.3 per cent fewer cars than in the same period last year, but in Australia the brand gained 5.4 per cent.

 center imageFrom top: Audi A1, Audi Q5, Audi A4.

Australia was one of the best markets for Audi last year with a record 9410 units sales, up 30.2 per cent. Audi has doubled its market share and volume here since 2004.

Mr Stadler said Audi, which is a division of Volkswagen, delivered 1,003,469 vehicles (up 4.1 per cent) in the 2008 fiscal year, generating income of €34.2 billion ($A67.1 billion), which was an increase of 1.7 per cent, but net profit grew 30.4 per cent.

“With our 13th successive deliveries record, 2008 was the most successful fiscal year in the history of our company,” he said.

“We have been steadily improving our productivity in recent years, and the main financial figures for 2008 reflect this.

“These positive effects make it easier for us to respond appropriately to the crisis. In the current year, we have succeeded so far in increasing our market share in the premium segment with an attractive model range.

“We are responding flexibly and proportionately to changes in the volume of orders and adjusting production at short notice in order to keep stock levels down.”

Audi board member Axel Strotbek, who is responsible for finance, noted that the pre-tax return on sales had increased from 8.7 to 9.3 percent and enabled the company to continue investing €2 billion ($A3.9 billion) each year in future model programs.

“Audi Group is now one of the most profitable players in the international automotive industry, a particular advantage in a year in which the repercussions of the financial crisis were already very noticeable,” he said.

“These outstanding key figures – the best ever in the history of the company – provide Audi with a sound basis for funding capital investments in its ambitious model range from its own resources over the next few years.

“We will continue in 2009 to invest heavily in new products, future-proof technologies and growth markets.

“We will counter the negative impacts of shrinking sales caused by the global economic crisis through consistent spending and investment discipline, and continuous process optimisation.”

Audi’s 2008 sales success was built on the new A4, which is now the top-selling car in Germany, but the company also achieved growth from the revised A3 and A6 ranges, as well as the successful introduction of the Q5 compact SUV.

Next year, the company enters the premium small car segment with the A1, which was previewed in concept form at two recent motor shows.

“The response to the A1 studies shown at Tokyo in 2007 and Paris in 2008 was very encouraging,” said Mr Stadler.

“The A1 will enable us to tap into a new, attractive target group. With its typical Audi DNA, this car will round off our model range at the lower end and boost the appeal of the Audi brand, particularly among younger customers.

“We are standing by our existing (growth) goals. Audi has the potential to secure yet further growth by launching new model series, and also by working in existing markets more effectively.

“The new A1, which is set to diversify into a separate family of models, will help us achieve precisely that.”

Audi says it launched 17 new models last year and will launch a further six in 2009.

Over the next seven years, the company says it will increase its vehicle range from the current 28 models to 40.

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