INGOLSTADT - Audi wants to be the leading premium brand worldwide by 2010.
To achieve the ambitious goal Chairman Martin Winterkorn aims to halve the faults in new Audi models and improve the Volkswagen subsidiary's sales organization.
"The more dealerships I see, the clearer it is to me that we still have a great deal of catching up to do," Winterkorn said in an interview here.
Audi was eighth in the latest J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality Survey in the US, up from 11th in 2004 but still behind rivals BMW (third) and Mercedes-Benz (fifth).
"In two years, at the latest, we want to be in the top 5," he said.
The survey rates problems per 100 vehicles after 90 days of ownership. Audi had 106 problems per 100 vehicles compared with 104 for Mercedes and 95 for BMW, which has passed Mercedes to become the top-selling premium brand in the world.
What's driving Audi's ambitious plan is simple economics. "There is no question that we have to bring in more revenue per vehicle to improve our total results," he said.
Audi still fares worse in this area than Mercedes and BMW, but Winterkorn wants to change this.
"There is no longer a reason that an Audi should not cost as much as a comparable competitive vehicle."
To excite customers' interest, Winterkorn is expanding the range of luxury features that Audi offers. For example, the upper-premium A8 will soon offer high-end options such as carbon ceramic brakes and a 14-speaker, 1,100 watt audio system from Bang & Olufsen.
Despite lower investment costs, Winterkorn also expects the number of model variations to increase greatly over the next five years.
Winterkorn confirmed that the company is working on a convertible based on the A3, as well as on an A5 coupe, a compact SUV and a crossover vehicle.
"The trick will be introducing as many derivatives as possible into the market, Winterkorn said, "with little money and at low cost."