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Market Insight: Audi addresses sales slide

Biosecurity delays, customer anticipation of new models behind Audi’s YTD sales slide

6 Jun 2024

AUDI Australia director Jeff Mannering has addressed the importer’s poor sales performance through the first five months of 2024, saying shipping delays and customer anticipation of new-generation models is behind the year-on-year slide. 


Speaking with GoAuto at the launch of the Audi Q8 E-Tron and SQ8 E-Tron in Melbourne, Mr Mannering said the unexpected quarantine of 3000 vehicles led to a slower-than-usual start to the sales year, but that moves are in place to ensure smoother shipping processes moving forward. 


“Through January and February, and even into early March, we had 3000 cars in quarantine. So, we couldn’t really sell any cars because we couldn’t get them out of quarantine,” he explained. 


“That is an issue we are dealing with in cooperation with the factory, and we have made a bit of progress on it. On our initiative, we are going to change a few things at the port that will see the cars positioned closer to the ship so that they are cleaner when they are loaded. 


“Biosecurity is incredibly important, and it is a matter of fixing a process. That is part of what we’re working on.” 


As well as addressing the issue of vehicle cleanliness at the point of export, Mr Mannering said the natural lull in vehicle product cycles was also partly attributable to Audi Australia’s slower start to the sales year. 


“We have also got a lot of new cars coming in the next 24 months. So, we’ll go into production blackouts soon – so that the production line can be readied to produce our new cars – and then they will have to go through the homologation process,” he added. 


“So, we don’t have the supply the same as we had last year. I knew, and I expected, that we would be below in the first quarter (of 2024). However, I didn’t know that we would have so many cars in quarantine.” 


Based on VFACTS national sales figures released last week, Audi Australia’s year-to-date deliveries slipped by an appreciable 13.1 per cent, with May sales down 2.3 per cent on the same time last year. 


Total sales of Audi vehicles to the end of May tally 6515 units, placing the importer well behind BMW (10,495) but still gaining on Mercedes-Benz (7662 units, down 25 per cent YTD), and ahead of Lexus (5077, down 6.3 per cent), Volvo (3659, down 26.6 per cent), Land Rover (3023, up 1.7 per cent), Genesis (575, down 9.7 per cent), and Jaguar (312, up 63.4 per cent). 


Mr Mannering said the end of the financial year and improved supply will see better numbers over the coming months with the addition of all-new vehicles towards the end of the year – including the vitally important Q4 E-Tron electric medium SUV– bolstering numbers once more. 


“This month will be much better, as we move towards the end of financial year. We expect another lean quarter in quarter three, then in quarter four we’ll have the Q4 coming and Q3 coming back,” he said. 


“That said, we won’t be at the same level as last year and we knew that. But it isn’t a performance issue or a market issue, even if the market is quite tough at the moment. 


“When you look at our strong end of financial year offer and the fact we have a lot of new cars coming, I think we’ll be right within where we want to be by the end of the year. 


While Mr Mannering would not be drawn on numbers or placement within the prestige segment, he did express confidence in stabilising Audi’s position against its closest rivals. 


“It is probably not our focus to try and overtake anybody (in terms of sales),” he stated. 


“We’re more focused on our profitability, making sure that our dealers are profitable, on making sure that we offer exceptional customer service and on making sure we get our products here when we say we will.

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