Audi shoots for 200,000 U.S. sales 'sooner rather than later'
Photo credit: Joe Wilssens
DETROIT -- Audi should hit its goal of selling 200,000 vehicles in the United States "sooner rather than later," Audi of America President Scott Keogh told the Automotive News World Congress today.
In 2012, Audi's U.S. sales rose 19 percent to a record 139,310.
The projected 44 percent gain by 2018 -- the year that VW and Audi executives have recently tabbed as their target -- will come even though some of Audi's models currently are hard to come by, driving up prices. Audi has a 30-day supply in the United States, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Keogh said he intends to keep models in relatively short supply.
"Dealers will always ask for more cars, and then the instant you have too many cars, boy -- the dealers will rapidly, rapidly turn on you," Keogh said. "So, if I was going to pick which way I would rather hear the dealers screaming, I would rather hear them screaming for more than to turn this valve off and give me some discounts."
Audi's current success marks a remarkable turnaround for the brand.
"People were laughing at Audi a couple years ago," Keogh said. When Audi declared it would sell 1.5 million cars globally, "People said, 'You're crazy.' When we said we're going to compete with BMW and Mercedes-Benz, people said Audi was never going to get up there. Today, we're the second-largest luxury brand and an incredibly profitable brand."
Keogh, 43, came to Audi in 2006, when it was the seventh most cross-shopped luxury brand. Flagging sales had left many of the brand's dealers unprofitable and many of its stores dilapidated.
But the brand, part of the Volkswagen Group, has revived itself with a focus on high technology and cutting-edge style, and expects another record year in 2013, Keogh said.
Keogh, who was Audi of America's chief marketing officer for six years, took over as president in June after the departure of Johan de Nysschen, who left to become the global head of Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti brand.
Before the turnaround, Audi had hunkered down and relied on sales in its core U.S. market: the Northeast. Keogh said much of the recent growth has come from other parts of the United States, such as the Southeast and the West, where Audi had struggled in the past, and from the demographic of younger, educated buyers that Keogh referred to as the "creative class."
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