ZELL AM SEE, Austria - Audi's upcoming A5 coupe will be the first example of the automaker's new way of developing cars.
Audi's modular-platform strategy will be the basis for the A5. The strategy uses a set of modular building kits - an air-conditioning system, for example - that are shared among a product family. The modular approach can bring cost savings and enable a quick introduction of variants.
"It is a combination of basic parts, yet with different geometries," Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi's technical leader for electronics and concept vehicles, said during an interview at the launch of the TT coupe here last month. "It will allow for more dynamic products."
Audi hopes that its modular approach will allow the carmaker to launch more niche vehicles and nearly double annual global sales to 1.4 million units by 2015. Last year Audi sold 829,100 vehicles globally, up from 779,441 in 2004.
Chairman Martin Winterkorn has said Audi's lineup will expand to 40 models by 2015, from the current 22. The product offensive will be complemented by Audi's plans to improve productivity by 10 percent a year, Winterkorn said. The flexible platform allows different models - such as sedans, station wagons, coupes and crossovers - to be built.
The A5 is expected in 2007. The large coupe will target buyers of the Mercedes-Benz CLK class. By 2008, Audi plans to have an A3 convertible, the Q5 SUV and the R8 sports car.
The German press has reported that Audi also is interested in producing an A7 four-door, coupe-styled car that would compete against the BMW 6 series. Hackenberg would not confirm product plans.
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