FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen's premium unit Audi AG founded a new sales subsidiary in Brazil that involves the complete takeover of a previous Brazilian sales joint venture, the company said on Thursday.
Following an agreement to buy the remaining 49 percent holding in Audi Senna Ltda, Audi formed Audi Brasil Distribuidora de Veiculos Ltda operating out of Sao Paulo.
"Our goal is to further extend the market leadership in the premium segment that we have achieved in Brazil throughout the entire South American region," Audi sales chief Ralph Weyler said in a statement.
The company sold more than 6,200 cars in Brazil -- out of 9,100 in South America -- last year and it controls a market share of 44 percent in the premium segment, making it market leader according to Audi's own data.
It also builds the A3 compact in its Curitiba plant in the state of Parana, the unit's only production site in the Americas.
"The new sales structure in Brazil will make it possible to tap the considerable market potential for South America that still exists," said Audi's head of sales for America, Matthias Seidl.
Audi has sold more than 64,000 cars in Brazil since its entry in 1994, a year after signing an exclusive sales agreement with Senna Import. The two formed a joint venture later at the start of 2000. Senna Import was founded by Brazil's Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna, who was killed in 1994 in Imola during the San Marino Grand Prix.