Audi CEO predicts 2012 will be a tough year for the auto industry image

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler says the automotive industry faces a tougher year in 2012 than in 2011.

In an interview with Reuters, the executive admitted however that this should not be a reason to be pessimistic, as the industry will continue to grow over the next 10 years thanks to the huge appetite for mobility coming from developing countries.

Stadler expects China’s overall automotive market to grow 8 to 9 percent next year, with the premium segment to increase 20 to 30 percent. Audi is the market leader in the luxury segment in China, well ahead of rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Audi’s CEO thinks automakers have a better chance of growing in the premium segment because emerging markets like China will produce even more millionaires.

As for the world’s largest luxury car market, the U.S., Stadler says Audi is aiming for the top spot in its bid to become the largest premium carmaker in the world by 2015. Currently, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are ahead of Audi in the United States. According to Stadler, a new production plant in the U.S. would help, but the location is still unclear.

Stadler denied speculation in the German media that he might follow Martin Winterkorn as VW CEO in 2016. „No. I have many things to do here,” he said.