Audi’s on a roll, seeing larger gains than BMW or Mercedes-Benz in Canada – The Globe and Mail (subscription)

The Germans have actually a saying – sehr geil – loosely translating to trendy, cool, sexy.

That’s Audi right now.

Audi established a sales-volume tape last year and carried energy in to the initial quarter of 2016, especially outside of its residence base, Europe. Of the more-than-tape 450,000 vehicles sold globally in the initial three months, nearly one-third were bought in China. In Canada, first-quarter sales jumped 25 per cent year over year, much better compared to any premium auto maker along with equal or much better volume.

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“Model-wise, there are two reasons for this worldwide victory story,” company chairman Rupert Stadler told a throng of media and VIPs at the recently wrapped Beijing worldwide Car Exhibition. “It is the enormous response to our SUVs, and our finest seller, the Audi A4 sedan.”

In North America especially, even as moms and dad company Volkswagen was slow to see demand, Audi sensed the market’s oncoming lust for premium SUVs a decade ago, launching the Q7. Today, while Audi’s sporty image is represented by its TT and R8 sports cars, SUVs make up nearly 50 per cent of the auto maker’s sales on this continent.

“Any brand that adopted SUVs earlier is in a much better placement today as a result of the continued growth of light trucks versus passenger cars,” says Robert Karwel, senior manager, Power Guide Network, J.D. Power Canada. “This strategy is considerable in that it brings along with it not only physique styles that are popular, however vehicles that consumers are willing to pay a higher price for, which then results in better profits for the manufacturer. Observe exactly how SUVs have actually proliferated Audi’s lineup.”

Dogged a decade ago by a reputation for dubious reliability and service – described by Forbes Magazine recently as “one of the most finicky and service-heavy luxury cars you could buy” – Audi today is rated tops among premium brands in the annual J.D. Power customer service survey. The mid-size Q7 is Consumers Reports’ top-rated SUV. The Q5 and compact Q3 likewise score highly, as does the constant of sedans ranging from the A3 to A8.

As along with German rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Audi is reaching in to all segments, pickup trucks excluded. Twenty brand-new or refreshed models are being brought to market globally this year, including the A4 Allroad station wagon displayed recently at the Vancouver auto show.

The energy is along with SUVs, though. The brand-new Q2, a subcompact SUV targeted to urbanite millennials and Gen-Y. An additional is the powerful SQ7. On Thursday, Audi said the Q2 will certainly be equipped along with its own SIM card along with an unlimited data strategy — that is, an Internet connection as standard equipment. The company is likewise preparing Q4, Q6 and Q8 models, and it announced a Q7 e-tron, capable of up to 56 km in purely electric mode.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz are like the two thoroughbreds engaging along the rail, toward the wire, battling to be the world’s No. 1 maker of premium vehicles. Meantime, here comes Audi on the outside, tactically, confidently.

Audi cradles that image, casting itself along with fun, irreverent advertising as both powerful and smart. In 2008, an infamous Super Bowl TV commercial showed an old man in a stately mansion, waking in bed along with oil on his hands and auto portions under the covers – evoking the horse-head scene from The Godfather. Cut to the driveway, where an Audi R8 roars to life, followed by the printed message: “Old luxury simply got put on notice.”

That halo auto “started a revolution,” Audi of America president Scott Keough said at the brand-new York auto reveal this March, as soon as introducing the R8 Spyder convertible. “It declared our intent, and it accelerated everything.” U.S. sales of the full line jumped from 80,000 spine then to much better compared to 200,000 in 2015.

The TT, RS7 Sportback Performance and the R8 sports cars rev up the consumer’s imagination. In terms of sales though, the bedrock vehicles are the A4 four-door sedan and Q5 SUV.

The A4, redesigned for 2017, is being advertised along with a video collage of quick cuts – a band playing, a debate group returning home, a Wired magazine cover, a Mars probe landing, a crushing tackle in a higher school football game – all scored by Iggy Pop’s 1973 head-banger, Search and Destroy. The tagline: Intelligence is the brand-new rock ’n’ roll.

Improved power, efficiency and safety technology are complemented by a virtual cockpit, enabling the driver to switch between classic and infotainment modes. In infotainment, the traditional speedometer/tachometer is obscured and replaced by a colourful display. The system, powered by a fast Nvidia processor, Can easily be controlled from the steering wheel.

“The suggestion of equating rock ’n’ roll along with the brand-new globe of technology felt fairly fresh to us,” Loren Angelo, director of marketing at Audi of America, told AdFreak. “These inventors and thinkers are the brand-new disruptors. They are the people we all hope to be. What’s a lot more rock ’n’ roll compared to that?”

The Q5, remodelled for the initial time since introduced in 2009 and being built in Mexico, shows Q7 design influences in the spy photos. It is reportedly based on the A4’s platform which sheds considerable weight. An anticipated 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine would certainly bring 252 horsepower. exactly how to advertise this one? A Sex Pistols soundtrack, perhaps?

Technological development is core to Audi strategy. At the annual meeting this spring, Stadler announced that Audi will certainly hire 1,200 people this year and spend €300-million ($440-million) toward “the mobility of tomorrow.”

“Our model and technology initiative will certainly make certain our growth of tomorrow,” Stadler said, on Thursday, “Electrification and digitization represent an historic shift.”

In China, he reaffirmed a pledge to manufacture an all-electric SUV by 2018, along with single-charge range of an estimated 500 kilometres, almost enough for the Montreal-to-Toronto drive. Meantime, the A3 Sportback e-tron, a brand-new hybrid hatch, allows 26 kilometres of battery driving and combines along with a 1.4-litre, 150-horsepower gas engine; it starts at $39,200. Said Stadler, on Thursday at the annual meeting: “Starting in 2018, we will certainly launch An additional electrified auto each year,” announced Stadler.

There are one billion cars on roads today – a number, Stadler says, that pronounces the car as the ultimate form of personal mobility, while simultaneously screaming a “requirement for urgent solutions for the cities of tomorrow.” At the Los Angeles auto reveal in the fall, the company announced that 25 per cent of its fleet will certainly be hybrid, electric, or hydrogen fuel-cell by 2025. The investment in to zero-emission vehicles will certainly tips Audi balance governmental mandates for overall fuel-efficiency, as its SUVs surge in popularity.

“It is finest to have actually both worlds together, offering SUVs at the same time as higher fuel-efficient engines,” Daniel Weissland, president of Audi Canada, said at The Globe’s auto summit earlier this year. “In the bigger SUVs we are starting to put smaller sized engines along with higher fuel efficiency, and on the various other edge we have actually brand-new technologies like Audi h-tron [fuel cell] Quattro, and e-tron electromobility. We believe the future is going to see a lot more of those cars.”

Audi’s been barely dinged by diesel-scandal fallout, even as VW sales slumped. Karwel says VW customers are largely looking for the money-saving efficiency offered by diesel engines in lower-priced vehicles, while Audi’s diesel powertrains attract discerning drivers as a result of best-of technology, torque and efficiency. Drivers are keenly aware of Audi’s technological advancement over the past decade, thus “its gasoline engines are likewise being seen as perfectly suitable for the buyer to grab the most from their ownership experience.”

In Beijing, Stadler addressed the diesel controversy as a short-term hurdle. “In the long run, I don’t believe so, because the industry is employing a lot of people. Our industry is highly innovative and investing heavily in to brand-new technologies like digitization, like electrification, and I believe we will certainly ultimately offer something fairly good spine to society.”

Audi likewise presses ahead along with autonomous vehicles. Prior to the 2015 CES, AVs ferried journalists from Palo Alto, Calif., to Las Vegas, and at the recent Berlin film festival, a driverless A8 shuttled actors to the red carpet. In 2017, the brand-new A8 is scheduled to become the Audi’s initial series‑developed auto along with piloted driving, capable of speeds up to 60 km/h on the autobahn. “By 2025, we will certainly see fully automated driving,” Stadler said Thursday.

Consider the future: You, an Audi R8 V-10 plus Coupe, the autobahn, hands off the wheel.

2015 Audi sales

Audi sales in Canada jumped 9.1 per cent over 2014 to a total of 24,514, representing 1.4 per cent of the total market. By model:

Cars

A3

3,788

A4

5,461

A5

1,693

A6

990

A7

787

A8

238

Light trucks

Q3

3596

Q5

8203

Q7

1658

Sport

R8

89

TT

251

2016 Premium Brand Sales

First quarter sales, along with percentage difference from Q1 2015

Auto maker

Units

% change

Acura

3,804

1.3

Audi

5,855

25.4

BMW

7,652

12.2

Cadillac

2,443

24.1

Infiniti

2,780

16.4

Jaguar

393

14.6

Land Rover

2,659

60.5

Lexus

4,262

1.2

Lincoln

1,634

15

Mercedes-Benz

10,350

13.1

Porsche

1,090

15.1

Volvo

1,258

53.8

Source: Goodcarbadcar.net

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