Audi defends record fleet figures
26 January 2009
Audi has defended its 2008 fleet registrations, with the German brand recording its best-ever sales last year despite the shrinking market brought on by global financial worries. The company achieved a total of 59,942 fleet registrations, up 3.9% on 2007, putting it fifth in the manufacturer's ratings ahead of BMW and closing in on Peugeot.
"We haven't pushed, the volume of 'internal' vehicles - demos or our own vehicles - is lower than 2007, we've done 3000 daily rental cars, and we'll do less next year," said Audi UK boss Jeremy Hicks. "People point the finger at us because we've been successful, but why? We've had a full year of A5 (pictured) volume - 8000 cars, and the benefits from A3 Cabrio for half a year which is 3000 units. We've had a very positive contribution from new product."
That trend looks set to continue with products like the Q5 small 4x4 and A5 Cabrio coming this year, not to mention the new volume leader in the A5 Coupe range, the 2.0 TDI.
Looking at the market's prospects for 2009 Audi is currently predicting a total of around 1.8m new car registrations, compared with 2.13m in 2008. "The biggest gauge will be employment. If you go back to previous recessions, the early 1990s saw a 20% drop in car sales and there were 3m unemployed," said Hicks. "I don't think companies now can afford to take that number of people out, they are much leaner operations."
Hicks confirmed that Audi will be introducing stop-start technology in 2009, along with low rolling-resistance tyres and a brake energy regeneration system, all designed to cut CO2 emissions. "Stop-start is a good communications message, people understand it", he said. "It's going to be all about small increments, there aren't big steps there to take."