Audi CEO Rupert Stadler this week admitted in the German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, that the company’s bold claim to be the top-selling premium brand in the world by 2015 is unlikely to be achieved in time. Stadler cited the European economic down turn as the reason business has become “bumpier” for the European based manufacturer. Growth in Europe for Audi is only 2.8% and down on the same figure from 2011.
Audi fanatics never fear though, because Stadler still believes it is only a matter of time before Audi sales pass its Bavarian rival, BMW, in the luxury car segment. That time will be roughly five years from now Stadler claims. “By 2020 at the latest – It is not about overtaking BMW tomorrow or the day after, but to seize and secure the top position,” said Stadler. The Audi CEO did not confirm how many units he hoped Audi would be selling by 2020.
BMW are going to be a tough nut to crack, however, with global sales having increased by 8.1% and Mercedes-Benz figures going up by 6.9% so far this year. Mercedes-Benz has also made bold claims to re-overtake Audi by 2015 on their way to challenging BMW for top premium spot, presumably by 2020 as well.
Counting against Audi is that Mercedes-Benz and BMW are not far off introducing smaller C- and B-segment cars to battle the Audi A1 and A3 in their traditional sales stronghold. Hopes in China are also starting to fade somewhat too, with news suggesting market growth is slowing. Mercedes-Benz attributes its slowest sales for June this year as being due to the lower than expected Chinese demand. According to Stadler, however, Audi global sales are up 12.3% so far this year and the company is on track for annual sales of 1.4 million vehicles this year – a figure which will amount to their best sales year yet.