Audi counts on SUVs to drive past BMW
CEO says Q line to account for up to 40% of global sales by 2020
INGOLSTADT, Germany -- Audi is counting on its growing Q line of SUVs to help it drive past BMW brand to No. 1 in global luxury car sales by 2020.
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said Tuesday that the automaker's Q range would account for 33 percent to 40 percent of its planned 2 million global sales in 2020, up from a quarter now.
Led by the Audi Q3, European demand for premium medium SUVs rose 24 percent to 407,512 units last year in an overall market that was down 8 percent (see table, bottom).
In addition, the popularity of premium SUVs in growing markets such as China, the United States and Russia is fueling a wave of new models as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz vie for the premium-sales lead.
Audi, the world's second-largest luxury-car brand, and No. 3 Mercedes are both seeking to topple BMW as the market leader by the end of the decade.
Audi sales boss Luca De Meo told Automotive News Europe Tuesday that Audi is bullish about SUVs because worldwide demand for the vehicles is rising fast.
"By 2020, we expected global sales of SUVs to grow by at least 50 percent to 17 to 18 million units from about 12 million last year," De Meo said. "We want to benefit from this opportunity."
De Meo added that Audi expects global sales to expand about 20 percent to more than 80 million vehicles by 2020 from 67 million last year.
Audi's Q range, which includes the subcompact Q3, compact Q5 and the large Q7, is expected to double in size. The Volkswagen Group unit is developing the Q2, Q4 and Q6 as a sportier alternative to its current range, a person familiar with the strategy told Bloomberg.
During an interview last week with Automotive News Europe, Stadler confirmed that Audi would add more SUVs but declined to reveal the models' names.
"Our current range is made of very functional SUVs. In the future, we will add a different type of Q model, emotional and very sporty," Stadler said.
Stadler and De Meo told ANE that Audi's priority for the Q range is to add a model below the Q3. The automaker hinted at the look of that model with the Crosslane concept that it showed last September at the Paris auto show.
The next step would be to add a model between the Q7 and Q5, which was Audi's No. 3 seller global last year with a volume of 210,000 units. Only the A4 range (329,000 units) and the A6 model line (285,000) outsold the Q5.
Industry sources said Audi's third planned SUV would be designed to rival the BMW X6.
-- Bloomberg contributed to this report
1. Audi Q3 71,356 +843
2. BMW X3 70,116 +18
3. BMW X1 64,124 -22
4. Audi Q5 53,425 -17
5. Range Rover Evoque 50,668 +341
Segment total: 407,512 +24
SOURCE: JATO Dynamics