Now that Audi AG has shuffled production schedules to build more crossovers, the automaker expects to have a new U.S. best-seller this year.
Audi of America sold 2,753 units of the five-seat Q5 crossover in February, up 57 percent from a year ago. It also sold 920 units of the seven-seat Q7, up 147 percent, leading the entire brand to a 28 percent sales increase for the month.
In February, the Q5 was Audi's best-selling vehicle, topping the A4 sedan, which had sales of 2,635 sold, down 3 percent.
The February results underscore the ongoing shift in Audi's strategy, which has long leaned on the entry-level sedan but is now focusing on more expensive, profitable models.
Audi of America expects the Q5 to be its best-seller for the year, spokesman Brad Stertz said. Supplies of the crossover were tight last year because it is built on the same assembly line in Ingolstadt, Germany, as the A4, but Audi has shifted production.
"It's a balancing issue," Stertz said. "That, of course, will change when all Q5 production moves to Mexico."
At the National Automobile Dealers Association convention last month, Audi executives told dealers the U.S. market has been allocated 8,000 more Q5s in 2013.
A planned assembly plant in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico, is slated to start producing the Q5 crossover in 2016, around the time of its first major redesign.
Audi's sister brand, Volkswagen, posted its second straight single-digit sales increase after a string of sizable, double-digit gains as high as 63 percent dating back to Feb. 2011. U.S. sales increased 3 percent to 31,456, a mild disappointment for a brand that aims to double its annual U.S. sales to 800,000 within five years.
The dip in sales growth reflected an 11 percent drop in volume for the brand's best-selling car, the Jetta sedan, and an 8 percent decline in sales of the Passat sedan, which has consistently posted increases since its launch 18 months ago.
It was the worst monthly sales gain for Volkswagen since January 2011 when the brand's U.S. sales increased by 2 percent.
Volkswagen Group of America CEO Jonathan Browning today noted that the Volkswagen brand has boosted sales volume by 29 percent over the past 12 months, more than double the industry's rate of growth.
"Our focus isn't on a single month of growth, or a single quarter," he told reporters today. "It's very much about building the sustained growth we've talked about."