BERLIN (Reuters) -- Audi will replace the head of its Chinese operations, Dietmar Voggenreiter, as the carmaker grapples with an accelerating sales decline in its key market.
Voggenreiter will leave his post at the end of the year and will be replaced by Joachim Wedler, who currently oversees Audi's strategy on model lines, Audi said in the July edition of in-house newspaper "Audi Mobil."
Audi is reviewing its target of delivering 600,000 cars in China this year after its sales slowed in the first six months.
Last year Audi sold 578,900 cars in China, a rise of almost 18 percent compared with a year earlier, but its sales performance has dramatically worsened, hit by an aging lineup, a slowing economy and the country's stock market crash. The brand's China deliveries fell 5.8 percent in June to 47,831 after a 1.6 percent drop in May.
BMW brand's China volume dipped 1.3 percent to 36,887 last month. By contrast, Mercedes-Benz’s sales jumped 39 percent to 32,507. Mercedes has so far escaped the downturn faced by its luxury rivals after revamping its China operations and expanding its product lineup.
Audi, China's top-selling luxury carmaker and VW's main profit contributor, may feel the Chinese slowdown of demand more strongly in coming years than German rivals, IHS Automotive says.
After sales surged 147 percent to about 580,000 cars between 2010 and 2014, Audi's growth may slow to 25 percent over the 2014-2020 period, compared with 31 percent at BMW and 65 percent at Mercedes, according to IHS estimates. That would take Audi's China sales to 725,000 by 2020, still above BMW's 579,000 and Mercedes' 458,000.