Audi is simplifying its lineup to cut costs and increase profits. The automaker has already pared down its line by 27% as it aims for an eventual 45% reduction. Audi believes more youthful shoppers aren’t going to want the same things older customers desire. Most people younger than 35 have less spending money than older buyers, and Audi believes the company must start concentrating on smaller, less expensive cars for that more youthful segment.
“We want to get more penetration in the high-end segment, but at the same time, we want to increase young customers, which you do not find in that segment,” said Audi CEO Bram Schot. “If you take an average customer over 50 years old, they have a completely different requirement set to connectivity and digitization than a 25-year-old. But the cars where you can afford that most are the cars bought by those over 50.” The higher-end models would include the A6, A7, Q7, and Q8.
One lingering question has been the future of the troubled R8 supercar. Oliver Hoffmann, Audi Sport’s head of technical development, confirmed there will be a third generation, likely to be a hybrid or full electric. The “little brother” of the R8, the TT, is also safe, but it is not clear in what configuration.
You may not have noticed, but in some markets, Audi has done away with manual transmissions for 2019. In North America, the sales numbers for stick vehicles was very low. Other moves may involve eradication of entire model lines, but no models have been explicitly identified. Audi has a difficult job ahead because what is popular for European markets may not be in the North American markets.
Audi has a proven history of innovation going back to 1982, when the company decided to go with all-wheel drive vehicles. To prove its superiority, the company entered into the World Rally Championship and won in 1982 and 1984. Later, the RS and S Line cars merged performance and luxury and made cars that were nevertheless affordable. These cars brought Audi numerous race wins on road courses and, of particular note, 13 wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
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