AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Insiders at the Ingolstadt automaker say Audi is planning to launch its smallest SUV yet, the Q2, which will slot in below the Q3 (shown above).
Said to utilize the same architecture that will also underpin the next generation A3, it’s believed we’ll see a concept version debut within a year and likely a production model will follow within 18 months of that.
In terms of configuration, the Q2 is expected to be a strict four-seater with a swoopy roof profile (think along the lines of a baby BMW X6) and targeted as a lifestyle machine, with limited off-road capability and primarily front-drive.
However, taking a cue from the Mini Crossman, insiders say Audi plans to offer a range of personalization options for the Q2, such as roof and mirror cap colours, interior panels and even the seats and steering wheel.
Given that Audi seems bent on filling just about every automotive niche it can, some have been asking whether or not we’ll see a Q4 as well, especially considering a Q6 is likely already on its way. Yet one source said, perhaps surprisingly that a Q4 isn’t likely to materialize.
“In higher levels of pricing, it makes sense to have a lower-volume niche machine like the Q6, but it can’t be justified in the lower segment,” the source declared.
It’s no secret that Audi is looking to launch a second generation Audi R8 supercar in Spring 2014, a car that it will be lighter and more powerful than the current model.
Besides adopting a multi-material inner structure, which includes carbon fiber for parts such as the transmission tunnel, B-pillars and engine firewall, the new R8 will also feature a 450 horsepower 4.2-liter V8, while the optional V10 motor will be hiked in output to around 550 hp.
There’s also a possibility that in effort to better comply with upcoming fuel economy standards, the V10 will be substituted for a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, similar to that which recently made its debut in the Bentley Continental. In addition, Audi also plans to market a limited run electric version, dubbed the RSe, aimed at buyers who want performance while maintaining a relatively health conscience.
Other features slated to be part of the 2014 R8 include a 7 speed dual-clutch transmission rather than the current 6-speed single clutch unit (no manual gearbox will be offered) a simpler MMI driver interface and variable intensity LED lights. Along with the loss of the stick-shift, Audi is also expected to make a major style change, dropping the trademark sideblades.
A Lamborghini Gallardo cousin will reportedly make its debut slightly ahead of the R8, with a roadster version of the latter due around 2015.
[Source: Car Magazine]
Given the rapid rate of growth in China, luxury automakers are falling all over themselves in an effort to boost capacity to keep up with demand.
Audi, amongst the longest established of German luxury car makers in China (FAW was assembling versions of the original Aero Audi 100 model as far back as the 1980s), has said that it plans to build a new factory in Foshan, in Southern China. Said facility will reportedly have a capacity to produce between 150,000 and 200,000 units annually. Combined with production at the existing FAW-VW Changchun facility (which currently assembles the Q5, A4 and A6), that should help boost total Chinese Audi production to some 700,000 vehicles annually.
Audi’s Chief Executive, Rupert Stadler, in response to the announcement, stated, “we want to clearly expand our presence in China and further strengthen our strategic partnership” and the “[new] factory is a milestone in our long-term growth strategy in China.”
If sales continue to grow steadily in emerging markets, then it looks very likely that by the end of this year, Volkswagen AG will overtake Toyota as the world’s biggest volume producer of automobiles.
VW’s sales, which ranked third in 2010 are expected to rise by some 13 percent this year, resulting in a total of 8.1 million vehicles finding owners across the globe, according to projections from three different auto analysts, surveyed by Bloomberg.
The surge is expected to come primarily from China, where gains are expected to be around 20 percent for VW and also India, where the automaker’s volume is forecast to more than double.
According to Jenny Gu, a senior market analyst for J.D. Power & Associates, based in Shanghai, “Emerging markets are at a stage of car-adoption by consumers and there is still a large space for sales to grow. VW realized this and put a lot of effort on emerging markets.”
Toyota, by contrast, is still struggling in the wake of the March 11 natural disaster in Japan. In addition, the company also had to suspend operations in Thailand recently due to heavy floods, though analysts at IHS Automotive believe that Toyota has every chance of recovering and nudging VW out of the lead as the largest vehicle producer next year, provided its recovery remains on track. Current estimates from IHS peg Toyota selling some 8.4 million vehicles next year, about 500,000 more than Volkswagen.
Whether that happens or not, one thing’s certain; emerging markets are seen as key to growth in the automotive sector, as sales in developed countries slow. Volkswagen plans to invest a record 62.4 billion Euros (approximately $87 billion US) next year, plus another 14 billion Euros on its joint venture operations in China.
VW was the first western automaker to set up shop in China and has been selling cars there for around three decades. And it looks like its goal of becoming and remaining the world’s biggest automaker in terms of volume is likely to bear fruit, for in addition to VW products, it’s also seen demand for its Audi brand vehicles grow significantly.
In terms of global sales, Audi nudged past Mercedes-Benz this year to become the second volume seller of premium branded cars and SUVs in the world, behind BMW. In addition, Audi plans to build another factory in China in order to cope with growing demand – sales in that country are projected to reach some 700,000 units annually by 2015, according to Dietmar Voggenreiter, head of Audi’s Chinese operations.
However potential obstacles to achieving number one status still loom on the horizon. The ongoing dispute between VW and Suzuki over their intended alliance is likely to cause possible road blocks, especially in India where Maruti-Suzuki is by far the most dominant player in the automotive market, as is the situation at home between VW and Porsche AG, where a planned merger is experiencing significant delays.
[Source: Automotive News]
We recently reported that the Audi A4 beat out the BMW 3 Series as the most popular luxury car in Germany for 2008 and now Audi is continuing to rack up the successes by boasting that it was the best-selling brand in all of Western Europe in the month of January.
These figures support news from the Simpson Carpenter market research institute which recently announced that Audi was Germany’s favorite brand.
During a time when sales figures are declining around the world, Audi has posted losses but not to the extent of its competitors. As a result the company managed to grab a total market share of 5.1 percent – compared to just 3.9 percent for the same period a year ago. In terms of units, this amounted to 45,124 vehicles.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management for Sales and Marketing at AUDI AG credits the success to the long list of vehicles that Audi has either newly brought to market or completely redesigned. “We have moved our product offensive into the passing lane,” says Schwarzenbauer. “Particularly in economically strained times, it is crucial that we at Audi offer our customers precisely what they want. We must offer appealing and sporty models which stir enthusiasm among Audi fans – vehicles that are also highly energy-efficient and low on consumption. In 2009, we will remain on the offensive.”
In 2008 Audi launched 12 new vehicles and in the first half of ’09 the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer will launch another six. “By 2015, we expect to offer Audi customers 40 different models,” says Schwarzenbauer, ” all loaded with forward-thinking technologies. To this end, we invest some two billion euros annually in product development.”
Official release after the jump: