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New Q5 to put Audi in the green

Sales race: In addition to the Q5 crossover, a number of high-performing RS models due by the end of the year – including the RS3 Sportback, RS5 coupe (left) and R8 V10 Spyder – are also expected to lift Audi’s sales.

Second-generation Q5 expected to significantly improve Audi’s 2017 sales slump

12 Jul 2017

AUDI Australia’s new-generation Q5 premium SUV will lead a fresh product onslaught that is expected to reverse the brand’s sales fortunes and return it to growth by year’s end, despite a 12 per cent decline in the first half of 2017.

The German car-maker has enjoyed 12 consecutive years of sales expansion in Australia, culminating in a tally of 24,258 units in 2016, however a challenging start to 2017 has seen Audi record only 10,702 new registrations to the end of June – about 1500 off the same period last year – threatening Audi’s record-breaking hot streak.

One factor in the downturn has been the lack of availability of the popular Q5 luxury SUV – which has fallen 36.9 per cent for a 997 sales tally so far this year – and has just been launched in second-generation form.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the crucial new-generation model, Audi Australia product communications manager Shaun Cleary explained that the sales drop was because the outgoing Q5 had “basically sold out in March”.

While Mr Cleary would not reveal this year’s sales target for the new-generation Q5, he hinted that the number would likely push sales of the crossover back into positive territory.

“I wouldn’t put a number on it, but clearly we’re always looking for growth opportunities in such a successful segment,” he said.

“And to have a new car with all the technologies that it brings – efficiency gains, new looks, great product offerings and customer value equations – yeah, we’re confident.”

Audi recorded strong sales for its mid-size SUV from its launch in 2009 and it was the best-selling car in its class from 2011 to 2015, but an ageing platform and new competitors including the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Jaguar F-Pace, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Porsche Macan have since chipped away at its lead.

The Discovery Sport leads the sales race on 2514 units to the end of June, followed by the GLC on 1830, X3 (1797), the NX (1790), Range Rover Evoque (1654) and Macan (1407), placing the Audi Q5 seventh with an average of about 166 sales per month.

For the Q5 to return to sales growth by the end of the year, Audi would need to sell 2602 new-generation Q5s over the next six months, or an average of about 434 a month which would also likely push the model back to the top of the segment sales charts.

Mr Cleary said the second-generation Q5, now sourced from a new facility in Mexico, would not face the same production restraints as its predecessor, which sold consistently well for Audi over its eight-year lifecycle.

“Throughout its whole life, it (first-gen Q5) has been restricted by production, but having a brand-new facility now in Mexico is great because obviously that has been built with future and volume increases in mind, so we’re really excited about what the new generation will bring in terms of opportunity,” he said.

“We would be looking for it (second-gen Q5) to certainly be in a healthy position throughout its entire life. The Q5, even for a car that was eight years old in the end, certainly in Australia had that sort of high demand throughout its entire life.”

Looking across the rest of Audi’s product portfolio, its largest contributor year-to-date has been the 2483 units from the A3, which was updated late last year and has since added a number of variants including the new flagship RS3 sedan.

While the sales figure is still 19.3 per cent off the pace set by the first six months of last year, the arrival of the updated alloy-engined RS3 Sportback in the fourth quarter will likely give the premium small-car a boost as the range-topping variant accounts for about one in four A3 sales.

The recently launched A5 and A5 Sportback are the only models in Audi’s stable currently experiencing growth, with 40.3 and 0.4 per cent year-on-year increases respectively, but the nameplate has only contributed 529 to the brand’s overall total.

Audi Australia product planning manager Peter Strudwicke said the A5 range, which will add the flagship RS5 halo by year’s end and a Cabriolet body style next month, is gaining momentum for the brand.

“It (A5) was winding down and we just started to get the new model in now in the last few months, particularly the Sportback which is our volume A5 model,” he said. “So all those things I think are building for the second half of the year.”

The Q3 and Q7 SUVs have tallied 1884 and 1456 sales respectively to the end of June, while sales of the new Q2 crossover have reached 866 since its launch in February.

Audi’s combined SUV sales for 2017 have hit 5203 units, or 49 per cent of its overall sales.

In the near future, Audi Australia will also launch the drop-top version of its second-generation flagship R8 supercar, which has slid 12.5 per cent to 21 sales year to date, as well as revealing its all-new A8 range-topping sedan, which has shrunk 64.7 per cent to just 12 units in 2017.

However, Mr Cleary said the premium brand is still expecting its successive years of sales growth to remain unbroken, despite the challenges in the first half of 2017.

“I think overall, we still see that there will be growth over the full year,” he said.

“The market has had its challenges, not only for Audi, in the first half of the year, for sure.

“But we’re faced by what we’ve just said, Q5 hasn’t been available since March – which obviously is a huge contributor as well – but we’re also coming into the next phase of our product growth which is really exciting.”

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