After years of serving the premium segment alone in China, in the face of toughening competition Audi expects growth for its annual sales, but at a more modest rate than before.
Decades ago, in 1988, when Audi set up shop in China in Changchun with the licensed production of the Audi 100 they were completely alone on the market. Although the 100 sedans were made for the government initially, Audi entered the mass-market production in 1995, when parent company Volkswagen signed the joint venture with the largest and oldest Chinese automaker – FAW Group.
In 2011 and 2012 China was the second largest economy in the world and Audi’s largest single market and there is no sign of change. CEO Rupert Stadler has set itself the goal to increase sales in China from currently around 400,000 to 700,000 units by 2020.
Still, “the big jumps every year with 30 or 40 percent are over,” says Audi’s China director Dietmar Voggenreiter, “The Chinese market is in the mature phase, it will be more competitive.”
The steps to do that are there: Audi wants to own the Chinese premium compact segment with the addition of a newly completed plant in Foshan (good for more than 150,000 cars). They will roll off the assembly line early in 2014 the A3 sedan and five-door A3 Sportback, but also, more interestingly even the plug-in hybrid e-tron Sportback.