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Volkswagen CEO admits: Audi lags behind competitors

2024-03-04 Update From: AutoBeta autobeta NAV: AutoBeta > News >


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Oliver Blume, CEO of Volkswagen Group, admitted that the Audi brand is lagging behind its competitors, especially in electric vehicles, and promised to revive Audi's highlight moment in the future. The Audi brand has great potential, but it has not been shown in recent years, Oliver Blume said. In the face of our main competitors, we did not defend its leading position because of serious software problems and we had to postpone plans for the release of electric vehicles.


In fact, Audi's sales have lagged behind for years. Take the Chinese market as an example, Audi sold 579000 vehicles in China in 2014, becoming the first BBA brand to reach annual sales of 500000 vehicles. However, Audi's sales growth in China has slowed since 2015. In 2017, Mercedes-Benz (including smart) sold 611000 vehicles, surpassing Audi for the first time. In 2020, BMW (including Mini) surpassed Audi and Mercedes-Benz to become the top BBA seller with 777000 vehicles.


In the past 2022, Audi's total global sales were 1.614 million, down 3.9% from a year earlier, of which 643000 were sold in China, down 8.4% from a year earlier. As Audi's competitors, Mercedes-Benz and BMW sold 2.044 million and 2.101 million vehicles respectively in the past year, and 791900 and 751700 vehicles respectively in China. Audi has a 100000-class gap with Mercedes-Benz and BMW. In 2023, the gap between Audi and Mercedes-Benz and BMW widened further. In the first quarter, BMW and Mercedes-Benz sold 195000 and 191000 vehicles respectively in China, while Audi sold only 136000 vehicles, down 15.6 per cent from the same period last year.

At present, China is Audi's largest single market in the world, but it has underperformed its competitors in the Chinese market. Oliver Blume said that the group is highly dependent on the Chinese market, but at present the pure electric vehicle product line is not competitive in the Chinese market. More worryingly, it lags behind its original ability.

Audi's sales performance is also lacklustre on the track of new energy vehicles. At present, Audi's new energy vehicles sold in China include Q2L e-tron, A6L e-tron, Q4 e-tron, e-tron, Q5L e-tron and so on, but the sales performance is not excellent. In the first five months of 2023, the cumulative sales of Q4 e-tron, Q5 e-tron and A6L plug-in hybrid were 6631, 1501 and 1397, respectively.


For Audi, 2023 is a critical year for transformation. In March, Audi China's official Wechat released future-oriented production plans. Starting from 2026, Audi will only launch pure electric vehicles for the global market. By 2033, the production of internal combustion engine models will be phased out, when Audi's own production base around the world will be put into the production of electric vehicles.

At the 2023 Shanghai Auto Show, Wen Zeyue, president of Audi China, said, "from this year, Audi will launch the largest product offensive in global history, which is also the most important offensive for future transformation." According to the plan, Audi will launch 20 models worldwide in the next three years, 10 of which are pure electric vehicles.

Audi FAW New Energy vehicle Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Audi FAW), which was established in March 2021, is regarded as the key for Audi to expand its lineup of electric vehicles in China and even around the world. It is understood that Audi FAW's first PPE plant started in Changchun in June 2022, with a total investment of more than 18 billion yuan and an annual production capacity of 150000 vehicles. After the completion of the plant, Audi A6 e-tron and Audi Q6 e-tron series of three models will be the first to go into production. Among them, Audi Q6 e-tron, the first mass production model based on PPE platform, will be unveiled in the second half of this year. In addition, Audi has promised that 2/3 of the company's expenditure (about 28 billion euros, 205.22 billion yuan) will be invested in future electrification and digitization from 2023 to 2027.


Oliver Blume said that Audi's new products, which will be launched next year, will bring huge opportunities for brands. In 2024, Audi will launch the Q6 e-tron, Audi's first electric car based on the Volkswagen PPE architecture, built on the same platform as the Porsche Macan EV. According to Oliver Blume, Audi's renaissance will focus on the faster development of electric vehicles. He stressed that the brand's sports models have great potential in this area.

As BBA pays more attention to new energy vehicles, domestic new energy vehicles return to market-driven, and the real competition has just begun.

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