DETROIT – Audi AG says 2008 will see another sales record, making it the 13th straight year the Germany luxury car maker will have established a new high-water mark.
Audi delivered 964,000 vehicles worldwide in 2007, up 6.5% from 2006, says Management Board Chairman Rupert Stadler. Records were set in 50-plus markets, he adds, including the U.S., where Audi sold 93,508 light vehicles.
Stadler promises Audi also will record all-time-high earnings for 2007, once final financial data is in.
This year, the auto maker will break the 1 million-unit mark in sales worldwide, Stadler predicts.
He says he is bullish on 2008 because Audi is launching the new A4 in the U.S. and will roll out worldwide the new Q5 cross/utility vehicle, A4 Avant and TTS, a high-powered version of the TT coupe and roadster unveiled at the North American International Auto Show here.
“North America is one big pillar in our growth strategy,” Stadler says. “Our objective is to get to 200,000 units (annually) at least. We want to grow; we have to grow.”
Audi is aiming to hit the 200,000 mark by 2015, when it expects to be selling about 1.5 million vehicles worldwide.
As for the high-powered diesel R8 super car unveiled in concept form, Stadler hints a production version is possible, but declines to provide a timetable.
“It’s too early,” he says. “But a lot of people are asking what they have to do to buy one.”
However, Audi thinks the R8 concept, at the very least, will help change perceptions of diesel engines in the U.S.
Stadler says the high-powered super car is designed to put some “emotion” into the diesel-market equation. “This is a statement,” he says.
About half of all the vehicles Audi sells worldwide are diesel powered, but the auto maker currently doesn’t offer any diesels in the U.S. That will change later this year when Audi launches a new diesel-powered version of its Q7 CUV.
Stadler says the Q7’s powerplant will be the “cleanest diesel” available in America and will be sold in all 50 states.
Ralph Weyler, head of worldwide marketing and product planning, predicts about 10% of U.S. Q7 buyers will opt for the diesel.