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A1 to drive a million Audi sales

On target: Audi’s all-new A1 has recorded more pre-orders than any Audi model before it.

Audi expects its smallest model ever to drive 2010 sales back past the million mark

11 Jun 2010

AUDI says its all-new A1 has attracted more orders in Europe than any other model in the history of the Volkswagen luxury brand, and will play an integral role in its quest to sell more than one million vehicles globally in 2010.

Due on sale in Australia in early 2011 following its European release in late August, Audi says the VW Polo-based five-door hatchback achieved unprecedented success since it opened for European orders last month.

Speaking in relation to May sales figures, Audi’s global marketing chief Peter Schwarzenbauer this week said the company has forecast a 5.3 per cent sales increase this year over 2009, when it posted about 950,000 sales.

That would see Audi break the million-vehicle barrier it has breached just once before, in 2008.

Audi’s 2010 sales result will be aided by demand for the redesigned A8 limousine, which goes on sale here in September, the all-new A7 Sportback, which won’t arrive here until 2011, and the A1.

“In Europe we will experience an additional boost with the Audi A1,” said Mr Schwarzenbauer on June 8.

“We have been taking orders for the past four weeks – and so far have registered more orders than for any other model in such an early phase.”Audi sold 94,900 vehicles globally last month – a 15 per cent increase on the May 2009 number. The company’s sales growth was strongest in China, where sales are up 40 per cent so far this year, followed by Austria, Japan and Australia, where sales are up 31 per cent on 2009 levels.

7 center imageLeft: Audi A7 Sportback concept.Expected to be priced from about $32,000 in Australia, the A1 will be the Volkswagen group’s first direct rival for BMW’s super-successful Mini and Citroen’s forthcoming DS3 premium hatchback.

Audi Australia marketing manager Immo Buschmann told GoAuto last week the A1 would be launched in Australia with two or three engines, with at least one engine to be shared with the A3 and a diesel likely to be offered from launch.

He said pricing would undercut the three-door A3, which opens at $34,700 as an automatic, on an engine-for-engine basis, but cautioned Australia’s A1 engine line-up was not yet confirmed, leaving the door open for the cheapest A1 to be more expensive than the A3 three-door here.

“The A1 is the most important thing of all,” said new Audi Australia managing director Uwe Hagen in his first official media function this week.

“It is the centrepiece of our range and I’m totally convinced it’s the best car in its segment, but we have to convince our customers.”Expected to spawn an entire range of model derivatives as part of Audi’s drive to offer no fewer than 42 models and variants by 2015 – when it expects to be the world’s top-selling premium vehicle brand – the A1 three-door should be joined by five-door, coupe, convertible, S1, RS1 and plug-in hybrid versions.

The latter has already been previewed by the A1 e-tron concept, but Mr Buschmann said Audi is currently deliberating whether to release its plug-in hybrid technology first in the A1 or in a ‘top-down’ approach, starting with a sporstcar based on the R8-like e-Tron coupe concept.

In the UK, the A1 range will open with the turbo-petrol 1.2 TFSI SE five-speed manual and will also comprise 1.6-litre TDI turbo-diesel and 1.4 TFSI turbo-petrol four-cylinder models with a dual-clutch S-tronic transmission.

Initially, Audi hopes to produce around 100,000 examples of the A1 per annum, exclusively at its Brussells plant, which should correspond to at least 1000 sales annually in Australia.

Audi Australia will not divulge its sales targets for the A1, but acknowledges it will be one of its volume-selling models alongside the A4 and Q5.

“The A1 will be the next big Audi, as well as the biggest car in its segment in terms of impact,” said Mr Buschmann. “It will show you don’t need to be big to be prestigious.”

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