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Audi growth in 3s

First foray: The Q3 will spearhead Audi's assault on the compact SUV segment in Australia.

All-new small car and SUV set to consolidate growth in Australia from 2012

6 Jun 2011

AUDI is poised to grow significantly in the next two years with the introduction of key new models as well as a much-needed boost in dealer numbers and facilities.

Along with the new-generation A3 small car in both hatch and new sedan guises, due to be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September, the closely related Q3 luxury compact SUV will spearhead Audi’s assault on two of the biggest vehicle segments in Australia.

Not only will the Q3 be Audi’s first foray into the low-$40,000 SUV segment against the BMW X1, it is expected to open the brand to a wider net of buyers cross-shopping the newcomer against non-premium players like Subaru, Mazda, Toyota and Ford.

“The SUV market is very strong – and the Q3 has the same potential as the Q5 for us,” Audi Australia managing director Uwe Hagen told GoAuto.

“With a strong market focus on SUVs such as the BMW X1, we are very positive about the Q3 as one of our key volume models. It will also compete against non-luxury SUVs such as Subaru.”

This year Q5 sales have grown 39.1 per cent to outstrip those of the BMW X1, X3, X5 and X6, as well as the ageing Mercedes-Benz ML, Lexus RX and Volvo XC60.

 center imageLeft: Audi Australia managing director Uwe Hagen, Audi A3 sedan, Audi A1 Sport, Audi A7.

Audi’s remarkable annual double-digit growth in Australia since 2005 means that head office in Germany now expects the local operation to be one of the star performers with the Q3.

“Australia is a very important market to Audi and it is also a very challenging market,” said Mr Hagen.

“We are currently listed as number 16 in global sales, so there is a renewed focus (for us to grow). The Q3 will be another pillar in our growth rate.”

To the end of May, Audi was the only German luxury brand to increase sales in Australia, rising 12.7 per cent over the same period last year while BMW dropped 6.4 per cent and Mercedes-Benz fell 8.2 per cent.

Furthermore, while both rivals still outsell Audi, the gap continues to narrow, with BMW only 48 units ahead after five months of 2011.

Audi expects further growth with the expected added volume of the Q3 and revitalised A3 – plus the all-new A6, an increased A1 range and the recently released A7.

Asked whether Audi pre-registers vehicles to help boost new-car sales figures, as some of his rivals claim off the record, Mr Hagen reiterated that growth without sustainability will not be tolerated as this is an extremely expensive exercise, though it is necessary to register some dealership vehicles for test drives.

Mr Hagen said that Audi people and company profitability are more important than the pole position in overall luxury vehicle sales in Australia.

“Our number one focus is to look after our people as well as customers, and to also keep Audi financially viable.”

Another priority for the one-time German Audi dealer principal is boosting aftersales care to keep up with the rapid new-vehicle volume growth, with improved facilities continuing through many parts of Australia this year as part of a $210 million investment in this country.

In addition to new or recently opened facilities in Perth, Brisbane, Geelong, Ballarat, Shepparton, Wagga Wagga and Gold Coast, Audi is constructing dealerships or service centres in Toowoomba, Wollongong, NSW Central Coast, Mackay, Tamworth Melbourne CBD and Melbourne suburb Doncaster.

“We have nearly completed the construction of our dealer network – and with more than 50 per cent of our dealerships constructed like a hangar,” said Mr Hagen.

“The $210 million investment by the dealers shows the trust they have in the brand – especially when it can take as long as 10 to 15 years to recoup the investment.

“It is also a strong signal to our customers of Audi’s commitment to Australia.”

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