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Audi topples BMW at home

On a roll: Audi's A4 is a winner at home and abroad.

BMW’s 3 Series beaten in Germany for the first time in decades by rampaging Audi A4

General News logo26 Jan 2009

AUDI has achieved a major accomplishment in its home country with the new-generation A4 topping Germany’s premium car sales chart, ending a long reign at the top for the BMW 3 Series.

The Ingolstadt company registered 98,714 of the new A4 models last year, again beating the Mercedes-Benz C-class.

The larger A6, which was facelifted in September, also won its segment with 45,304 registrations, while the TT was the top-selling sportscar with 10,630.

Audi consequently increased its German domestic market share from 7.3 per cent to 8.1 per cent, while in Western Europe the company moved up 0.4 points to 4.8 per cent market share.

80 center image Left: BMW 3 Series sedan.

In Australia, Audi has enjoyed record results for the past four years, and in 2008 grew 30.2 per cent in a contracting market to 9410 sales, though still well behind Mercedes-Benz (down 8.4 per cent to 18,540) and BMW (up 0.4 per cent to 17,263).

However, the big change in the 2008 pecking order in Australia was Audi’s elevation to third-biggest premium brand at the expense of Lexus, which dropped some 18.6 per cent to 6670 sales.

Toyota Australia vice-president of sales and marketing, David Buttner, told GoAuto that Lexus had suffered from not having new models in 2007 and believes his rivals also derived a short-sighted benefit from some retail actions that Lexus will not follow because they damage dealers and resale values.

“We will always be aggressive in the marketplace with our offers, but we will never do anything to denigrate the brand and we will not force our dealers to sell vehicles at certain prices, which erodes their profit opportunity,” Mr Buttner said.

“We don’t go and register a whole host of demonstrators at the end of the month chasing the numbers – we try and make our result pure and not derived. That, I think, has been one of the prime factors that’s dropped us to number four because we haven’t been into that sort of activity and a lot of our competitors have.

“But we are not manically going to pursue number three position. We won’t be in the marketplace with ridiculous offers and we won’t be forcing wholesale stock into our dealers during what is a very difficult profit period for them.” Mr Buttner said the vital new RX350, which accounts for more than one-third of all Lexus sales in Australia, was due here in April and that the hybrid version would arrive a couple of months later.

Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann said one of the reasons his company escaped the full impact of the increased Luxury Car Tax last year was because it covered the increase on behalf of its customers from July 1 until the legislation was passed in early September.

Mr Hofmann said Australia remained at the top of parent company Audi AG’s list of growth markets, having guided Audi Australia to 154 per cent higher volume in just four years.

Audi AG chairman Rupert Stadler, while noting the A4’s remarkable sales success in Germany, said that yet more new models would see the brand continue to grow in its home market and throughout Europe.

“Audi is presently experiencing stronger growth than any other premium brand in the region – and, thanks to new models, we will maintain this dynamism,” said Mr Stadler. “In a difficult market environment, we want to further expand our market share in Germany and Western Europe.” Mr Stadler said that the A4 line-up will be further expanded with the range-topping S4 in sedan and Avant (wagon) bodystyles now arriving in Europe’s showrooms.

However, not even Audi is immune from the global sales decline, being forced to close its main Ingolstadt plant – where the A3, A4, A5 and Q5 models are built – for five days at the end of February.

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