DETROIT -- With the debut of its Q7 SUV this year, Audi of America predicts U.S. sales will rise to a record.
Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president in charge of Audi of America Inc., says the brand will top its all-time high in the United States of 86,421 units in 2003.
Last year, sales increased 6.6 percent to 83,066 cars, pushed by the replacement of the A4 and A6 and the launch of the A3 small car.
Last year's results represented "huge progress" for the financial health of Audi's U.S. subsidiary, says Ralph Weyler, Audi AG board member for sales and marketing.
Prices were raised as models were replaced, incentives were reduced an average of $1,000 a vehicle, residuals rose 2 percent and quality improved.
Audi is preparing for this year's launch of the all-wheel-drive Q7 - the brand's first SUV. Audi will produce 70,000 Q7 models in a full year of production.
Between 45 and 50 percent will go to the United States, says Weyler.
The SUV goes on sale in Europe in February.
In the United States, the 4.2-liter V-8 version priced at $50,620, including shipping, goes on sale in May, followed by a V-6 in September.
"Our dealer council says we priced it right and that we have a good price/value relationship," says Weyler. "An Audi will never be cheap."