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Audi Oz ‘expecting growth’ in 2020
WLTP bottleneck overcome, Audi to launch at least 21 new models and variants in 2020
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2 Dec 2019
AUDI Australia is “expecting growth” in 2020 as it prepares to launch more than 21 new models and variants, having finally overcome crippling homologation-related stock supply bottlenecks and a stop-sale on two thirds of its Q7 large SUV line-up.
Hailed as “the biggest year (of product launches) we’ve ever had in terms of sheer numbers” by Audi Australia product planning manager Peter Strudwicke, next year also promises brand-building opportunities brought about by the introduction of the all-electric E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback SUVs.
Audi Australia is also working on reducing recent long delays between models going on sale in Europe and their arrival in Australian showrooms.
The company’s 12-year winning streak ended in 2017, when sales slumped 9.3 per cent to 22,011 units.
In 2018 sales plunged another 11.8 per cent to 19,416 deliveries and this year so far has been a bloodbath with 12,168 reported sales to the end of October representing a 25.6 per cent drop.
Recently launched volume-selling models such as the A1 light hatch and Q3 small SUV have arrived too late in the year to successfully turn things around, while reinstatement of popular V6 diesel Q7 variants happened at a time when the big SUV would otherwise be entering runout in preparation for the facelifted version that will come in autumn.
It has not been an easy three years for Audi’s German rivals either, with BMW recording a 15.7 sales decline in 2017, followed by another 2.4 per cent drop in 2018 and flatlining this year with a 0.5 per cent uptick. Mercedes-Benz was up 3.1 per cent in 2017 but fell back 13.1 per cent last year and is 6.5 per cent down year-to-date.
In the same timeframe, Australia’s overall new light-vehicle market edged upward 0.9 per cent in 2017 before dropping 3.0 per cent in 2018 and accelerating its downward trajectory with an 8.0 per cent decline so far this year.
Speaking with GoAuto at the recent A6 executive sedan launch in Adelaide, Audi Australia corporate communications executive Shaun Cleary said this year’s slump was compounded by supply bottlenecks and new-model launch delays related to homologation for European WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) fuel consumption and emissions testing that affected several European brands.
He said another significant impact came from the stop-sale of popular 3.0-litre turbo-diesel variants of the Q7 large SUV while engineers worked on a remedy for the emissions reduction system being unable to detect whether the AdBlue tank had been filled with the correct solution.
“We’re getting to a point now where we’ve got more certainty,” he said.
“It’s totally dictated by supply … We’d had A1 and Q3 not being available for sale for nine months … Then when Q7 was also on stop-sale it has contributed to that dip.”
On a more positive note, Mr Cleary added that 2020 is “shaping up as a really exciting year because of the models that have just arrived, but also because of what’s coming”.
First up will be the Q3 Sportback small SUV along with the facelifted Q7 and its high-performance SQ7 variant in March or April, followed by a fleshing out of the A6 range with a front-drive entry-level option, plus the Allroad diesel crossover and S6 performance variants, as well as the related S7 Sportback.
Also early in the second quarter will be the SQ8 and facelifted TT RS plus the return of the RS3 hyper hatch that recently returned to production following a long WLTP-related delay.
Later in the second quarter will be the facelifted A4 and A5, with the fire-breathing RS6 Avant uber-wagon and its RS7 fastback sibling arriving mid-year, joined by a rear-drive version of the R8 supercar.
The third quarter will bring yet more high-performance model launches, with hot SUVs comprising the SQ5 and RS Q8 plus the RS Q3 in both wagon and Sportback forms, not to mention the autobahn-storming S8 limousine and RS4 Avant wagon.
Audi Australia will also launch the E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback electric SUV duo in the second half.
“We’re certainly expecting growth … there’s huge potential,” said Mr Cleary.
“It’s going to be one of the strongest, if not the strongest product years we’ve ever had. If you combine that with huge brand building opportunities like the E-Tron in the second half, it’s a very exciting year coming up.”
Mr Cleary also confirmed that the company was working on narrowing the gap between European and Australian new-model launches.
“Launch timing for Australia, in relation to Europe, has been a gap of about six months but (recently) it’s been a lot longer than that, probably more than 12 months for some models,” he said.
“In recent history a lot more of that has come a lot more into alignment … What you’ll see over the next year – and it will happen gradually – is that we will get much closer to that six-month delay.”
A raft of plug-in hybrid models could follow the pure-electric E-Tron into Australian showrooms, which Mr Cleary described as “inevitably” part of the future line-up and currently under evaluation.
So far the company has sold small numbers of plug-in hybrids here in the shape of the A3 E-tron small hatch and Q7 E-Tron large SUV.
“For now, the focus for us is on E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback,” said Mr Cleary.
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