NEW YORK – Audi of America Inc. expects to sell 5,000-6,000 of its revamped TT coupe and convertible annually in the U.S.
The new model, which is being shown to the public for the first time in coupe form at the auto show here, will be launched in European markets this fall and arrive in U.S. showrooms in spring 2007. The convertible version, which hasn’t been unveiled yet, will follow.
“Thanks to our impeccable timing, we’ll have it (in the U.S.) in the fall (2007),” Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president in charge Audi of America, says of the convertible.
The new TT, which makes extensive use of aluminum for its spaceframe construction, will be more costly to build than the outgoing model, de Nysschen says. More complex construction and pricier materials were needed, because the new model is bigger and Audi wanted to maintain the car’s current weight.
“That was important for the driving dynamics,” de Nysschen says.
The new TT is more masculine in its design and stance, but de Nysschen says that doesn’t mean the new car is aimed only at male buyers.
“We just wanted the profile to be more aggressive,” he says. “The previous car was more feminine in design, and we wanted to change that.”
Meanwhile, Audi says its new RS4 high-performance model will base at $66,000 when it goes on sale in the U.S. in June. The car delivers 420 hp, a performance level de Nysschen says is “important for (making) brand statements.”
In addition to the RS4, Audi is launching the S8, S6 and Q7 in the U.S. this year, where de Nysschen says it is headed for an all-time sales record. Globally, he says, Audi delivered 227,000 vehicles in first-quarter 2006, up 16% from year-ago.
De Nysschen downplays a Consumer Reports ranking that shows below-par quality scores for some models, saying Audi AG CEO Martin Winterkorn is a “quality fanatic” who has made quality improvement his “No.1 goal.”
Audi’s own internal reports, de Nysschen says, show current cars are tracking better in both quality and durability, “but it takes time for that to filter into the market.”
De Nysschen also says Audi is making a significant investment here in New York, where it is upgrading many of its dealer outlets and will open an upscale Audi Forum showroom on Park Avenue.