Audi To Present New Brand Strategy After Falling Behind Rivals BMW And Mercedes

Audi will present a new strategy in May, one that’s meant to help the automaker regain momentum after falling behind its main rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Last year, Audi’s return on sales dropped from 7.8% to 6%, as the Ingolstadt brand increased its spending on electric vehicles and suffered production issues due to the new WLTP emissions testing cycle. Meanwhile, global deliveries went down to 1.81 million (a 3.5% drop compared to 2017), while European sales fell 14%.

Autonews Europe reports that 2019 will be a “transition year” for Audi, as the brand anticipates financial struggles from “managing the WLTP transition, high ramp-up costs, high advance expenditure for electric mobility and the increasingly difficult macroeconomic environment.”

“We are going to work hard on our cost structures,” said Audi CFO Alexander Seitz. “But operationally we are going to face a year of cleaning up.”

The first step towards a better future will occur on May 23rd, when Audi will present a new plan, seeking to improve plant capacity utilization, including bundling of platforms and vehicle architectures. Another solution is to build more high-end cars, where by 2025 there will be a total of 15 models within its upper mid-range and full-size segments.

There will also be five fully-electric and seven plug-in hybrid models launched within the next 24 months, extending the lineup to 30 electrified cars in total by the year 2025. In the end, a 14 billion euro investment will be made into autonomous driving, electric cars and digital services by the end of 2023.

According to Bloomberg, Audi also expects “deeper cooperation” with sister brands VW and Porsche in the near future, and plans on focusing more on its largest market, China.

  • Ary Wisesa

    In my opinion, the glaring weakness of Audi is their reluctance to differentiate their cars from its equivalent VW siblings. Platform sharing is good in accounting view (or even in engineering view, for that matter), but if an Audi A3 is not very different from a VW Golf, while customers must pay much more for basically the same car, then it’s the problem.

    Secondly, while Audi successfully introduced a new trend of big grilles, which wasn’t long after followed by BMW, Mercedes and even Lexus, they couldn’t keep the momentum of trendsetting and eventually fell into boring & unexciting design. Their cars are more or less scaled-up/down of one another. Mercedes can get away with such approach because it naturally has classical & elegant design in their cars, and it can retain its signatures on their cars (even though recent Mercedes start to lose its distinctive design elements). The same can be said for BMW. The two kidneys and hofmeister kinks are two elements that help BMW retain its signature. The 3, 5, and 7 Series all have unique identity and not simply the scale-up/down of one another.

    I used to like the understated, clean and very elegant Audi cars. I love the 2nd gen 3-door A3, especially its rear-light which is very clean but classy in my opinion. And also, 2nd gen A8, whose clean and uncluttered lines really defined the true meaning of understated elegance. They are sophisticated without trying too much. But current A8 is a big turn off for me, its gawping grille looks stupid. And what happened to the A7? The 1st generation A7 was truly a design masterpiece. I like it so much. And then they came with so disappointing 2nd gen A7. Oh my…

    To Audi: Please bring the elegance back to Audi cars once again.

    • Daniela Wolf

      3-door A3 sold terrible and the 2nd gen A7 amlost doubled the 1st gen’s sales.

    • Joe E

      I was behind a Q8 in traffic today. That model is the opposite of elegant.

  • Nexus7

    Continue to sell your cars with leather only, and I’ll continue to not buy them.

    • KidRed

      I’m not sure if you are referring to cloth, but their base models use leatherette. Leather is a package upgrade.

      • Nexus7

        I don’t believe so….e.g. i configured a A4 Allroad Standard model, says “leather seating surfaces”.

    • ctk4949

      Wish more car companies would use more fake leather. They look just as good, are more durable, and easier to clean.

  • Merc1

    More high end cars won’t help because Audi can’t sell anywhere near as many high end cars as Mercedes or BMW. Mercedes is clearly the leader in high end sales among these 3.

    M

    • Evan McMaster

      Now that’s just not true

      • Merc1

        Care to prove what isn’t true? I’ll wait.

        M

    • OS

      I think everyone on this forum is beyond tired of this insufferable Mercedes fanboy that always feels the constant need to signature his comments. Go troll about how you love Mercedes so much somewhere else. The only good Mercedes that exists is the S class and maybe the E class on a good day, everything else is trash and suffers from terrible production quality and materials.

      Your comment couldn’t be further from the truth. Audi sales were down last yr and during this “transition yr” because of WLTP bottlenecks and rolling out their brand new 2019 lineup. That hit them hard. Once they start mass selling the E-tron Quattro in major markets, I don’t see how sales won’t skyrocket and bring them back to tightly competing with BMW and Mercedes sales figures. To put it in perspective, Audi sold 1.87 mil cars in 2017, bmw sold 2.08, and Mercedes 2.22. If you rewind the clock 10 years back, Audi was nowhere near on this competitive level. This is tremendous progress for their brand, and I can only see their sales going up in the next decade with electrification. And BMW doesn’t sell high end luxury cars in high volumes, the 7 series doesn’t sell. Only Mercedes sells the S-class and the garbage G-wagon celebrity status symbol in high numbers.

      • no25

        PREACH!

      • Merc1

        Like I said before Audi can’t even sell any high end cars in the same numbers as BMW and especially Mercedes. The A8 continues to be a flop. The R8 is on the way out.

        Last I checked the E-Tron is NOT HIGH END. I didn’t say anything about overall sales, but since that is where you’re going, they’re down there also. All the Euros suffered the same problems last year, yet Audi came out dead last. You can spin excuses until your keyboard breaks doesn’t change squat and neither does going back 10 years in same lame attempt to make it seem like being #3 out of 3 is some accomplishment. You all can talk about me all you I have no ____ to give about it, but the facts won’t change.

        S-Class, AMG GT, G and the Maybach models all SQUASH anything Audi can sell at those prices and you know it. Audi isn’t even in the conversation above the A6/A7.

        M

    • no25

      LOL of course the Mercedes fangirl would say this. Maybe you should just sign your comments as “Mercedes Obsessed.”

      • Merc1

        It’s thinks its even funnier that you can’t refute it. Making it personal is all you can do at this point.

        M

        • no25

          LOL look at how many people are commenting about you. No one likes you, hun. We can’t stand your stupid comments. Go find a Mercedes forum to waste your time on. You’re not welcomed here.

  • TheBelltower

    Sales are down because the cars aren’t as substantial as they used to be, while the prices keep going up. Eventually people catch on. Simple as that. The RS cars are amazing, but they need to work on their mass market cars.

  • Carman

    Just build more ugly SUV coupes and make the emblem bigger …

    • Sébastien

      BMW recipe?

    • YUDHA BAGASKARA

      audi already have e-tron and q8 on their lineup

  • KidRed

    Why would they focus on China when every news article talks when key markets and the economy is contracting in China? That seems like the wrong market to hedge your bets on.

    • Sir, the economy is not contracting in China. Growth has slowed from double digits to single. It is still the fastest growth of any developed nation in the world at this time. This slow down was actually orchestrated in order to ensure inflation was controlled. The vehicle market was also slightly slower last year over the year before, but the EV market grew in the double digits. So yes, its still a safe investment.

  • Sébastien

    If they didn’t go all edgy design, and with ridiculous shiny surfaces inside (too many screens)
    I much prefered the original A5 kind of design language

    • Completely agree. The original A5 remains one of the finest designs – if not the best – ever by Walter De Silva. Lust-worthy to the max. I was lucky enough to own one – 3.2litre in a gorgeous blue – and thoroughly regret selling it. The new design language from Audi is grotesque in comparison. The edginess is too deliberate, too tacky, and bereft of any class whatsoever. I won’t return to Audi until and unless they go back to their golden days of understated design elegance.

  • ctk4949

    Its funny they make fun of the Lexus RX for being bland. But most of their cars/suv have the same blandness. lol

    • no25

      It’s funny too because the new RX at least took a risk in design, and it looks a lot more aggressive. The Q5/7 on the other hand remains bland with their new designs.

    • I don’t recall Audi ever ‘making fun’ of the Lexus Rx.

  • DanSemering

    I think they are ahead on the electric R&D that would pay on the long run!

    • Absolutely. This article confuses me.

  • YUDHA BAGASKARA

    more electrics, kill coupes and build x7 rival

  • sidewaysspin

    The cheaper models bring the whole brand down, and they’re still way too expensive for what they offer, people want value for money.

  • joeybuttafucco

    stop corporate fagginess and concentrate on engineering like Porsche. Also, don’t screw enthusiasts by only showing new cars and concepts for the press and then jetting the car off to Art Basel.

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