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Audi, how far it has come

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

How far will it go?

Audi is on a roll. Last year the automaker set a U.S. sales record, ending 2010 tallying 101,629 light vehicles.

What caught my attention this week were two predictions by Johan de Nysschen, Audi of America president. He spoke during a press conference for the A7 Sportback before the opening of the New York auto show. The A7 Sportback is a sleek, five-door hatchback that goes on sale in May.

De Nysschen predicted that Audi’s U.S. sales would go beyond 150,000 vehicles in 2015. That would be a 48 percent boost from last year. Audi is expected to expand its model line during this period.

Second, he expects combined sales of the A6, A7 Sportback and A8 to account for 25 percent of Audi’s U.S. vehicle volume in 2015. That’s 37,500 vehicles. The A6, A7 and A8 are the brand’s top three premium models.

By contrast, last year Audi sold 10,196 A6 and A8 units, 10 percent of the brand’s total sales.

The brand has never been stronger in the United States, executives say.

A few years ago, Audi was No. 7 on the list of high-end luxury vehicles that people cross-shopped, the executives say. Today, Audi says it is No. 2 on that list.

Credit sound product, beautiful styling, humorous advertising and other positive factors for the No. 2 ranking.

In a later interview, de Nysschen made another prediction: that the brand would sell 200,000 vehicles annually in the United States by 2020.

I think he is being modest, understating Audi’s real potential.

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