Audi surges to another record year; VW stalls

WASHINGTON -- Audi of America posted its fifth-straight annual sales record in 2014, while sibling brand Volkswagen took a step back in its quest to reach annual U.S. volume of 800,000 vehicles by 2018.

Audi sales rose 15 percent to 182,011 in 2014, including a 13 percent gain in December. Volkswagen posted flat sales last month of 34,058, closing 2014 with sales of 366,970, down 10 percent from the previous year.

New vehicles such as the A3 model line introduced last spring and the Q3 small crossover launched in the fall contributed nearly 26,000 units to Audi’s 2014 sales. Full-year availability of those new models plus continued demand for Audi’s Q5 and Q7 crossovers and a freshened A6 arriving this year make Scott Keogh, CEO of Audi of America, confident that the German luxury brand will sustain its momentum and post record sales again in 2015.

“We’re not just counting on one thing to make this happen, whether it’s one product or one region,” Keogh said in a conference call with reporters. Audi’s growth has “been balanced, and that’s what gives me confidence that, yes, we can sustain this growth.”

Keogh reiterated that Audi is ahead of the pace in its goal to sell more than 200,000 vehicles a year in the U.S. by 2018. Another 15 percent sales gain in 2015 would yield sales of more than 209,000 units.

At Volkswagen, meanwhile, higher December sales of its recently freshened Jetta compact sedan and the redesigned Golf lineup failed to make up for slumping sales of the Tiguan crossover and Passat midsize sedan, the brand’s second-best selling nameplate.

More Audi dealers

Audi is adding more than a dozen dealerships over the next year or two in key markets where it is underrepresented, including Southern California, Florida, Texas and New York, Audi of America COO Mark Del Rosso said during a conference call.

In addition to adding stores, Audi’s existing dealers are investing in new or renovated dealerships, with 25 projects under way in Audi’s Eastern region, 29 in Western states, 16 in Audi’s Central region plus 31 in the South, which Del Rosso called a “huge opportunity.”

“We are not seeing results purely from one product or one market or one dealer,” Del Rosso said.

Product blitz ahead

Audi’s redesigned Q7 crossover will debut next week at the Detroit auto show before its expected arrival late this year or early next year. Keogh declined to give a launch date for the Q7, but said that its introduction would be followed by next-generation versions of several nameplates including the high volume A4 lineup and Q5 crossover, plus the A5 coupe and R8 sports car, Audi’s halo vehicle.

“We can sustain this growth,” Keogh said. “We are going to have a staggering product offensive pending.”

You can reach Ryan Beene at autonews@crain.com

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