Tight global supply squeezes Audi dealers
Weeks: Dealing “with worldwide demand”
Audi of America set a sales record in 2012, but dealers say a global supply crunch is stopping the brand from living up to its potential in the United States.
Inventory of the Q5 and Q7 crossovers remained scant last year. Audi's U.S. dealers still sold 139,310 vehicles, up 19 percent from 2011, but the crossover shortages are holding dealers back, says Josh Weeks, outgoing chairman of the Audi National Dealer Council.
Audi plans to spend 13 billion euros, or about $17.31 billion, through 2016 to design new models and set up production lines. Part of that money will go for an assembly plant in Mexico that is scheduled to start building the Q5 in 2016.
"The difficulty is we're dealing with worldwide demand on these cars," says Weeks, who runs an Audi store in Connecticut. "The reality is, over the next few years, until some of those plants come online, it's going to be difficult to get some of these models."
During a phone interview last month, Audi of America President Scott Keogh said he sees more potential in the Q5, which continues to experience higher sales four years after its introduction. It received a freshening last fall and is scheduled to get its first redesign around the time the Mexico plant opens.
"We still haven't tested what that product is capable of doing," Keogh said.
Overall, Audi remains in third place among German luxury brands behind BMW and Mercedes, which are on pace to sell 300,000 vehicles in the United States this year.
Audi aspires to sell 200,000 cars per year. The brand remains on pace to hit that target, Weeks says, though getting more crossovers to sales floors would help.
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