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Audi boss not worried by extra A3 competition

Date: 05 December 2012   |   Author:

Audi UK managing director Martin Sander has welcomed the increased competition in the premium lower medium sector, which the firm's new A3 Sportback joins early next year in the wake of the recently launched three-door.

The new Mercedes-Benz A-class and Volvo V40 have both joined the Audi and BMW's 1-series to provide unprecedented levels of competition, but Sander feels the new rivals will be a help rather than hindrance.

"There's no doubt the marketplace is getting more competitive with more offerings, but I'm not concerned about the performance of A3," he told BusinessCar.

"The broader product offering in the premium A segment will draw more customers out of mass market and into premium.

"It will be more tempting for mass market buyers and because we have fantastic customers and Audi's number one image in the market, we can be confident."

Sander said Audi's position as the market leader in the sector will mean it will be "difficult to take customers away", but he said the firm will be shying away from aggressive moves to protect its position.

"We're looking for the same numbers as the last full year of A3s - 28,000-30,000 - without distressing the market or putting too many incentives to damage residual values," he said.

"Especially in the fleet sector, the key to success is stability and strong RVs.

"As soon as you change the strategy you jeopardise RVs by going for volume. the business model for corporate customers changes."

Sander also confirmed that Audi will launch a saloon version of the A3 in the UK.

"It will be launched but not huge volume," he revealed.

He said that as the market for premium upper medium saloons such as the A4 is so large, there could be an appetite for the bodystyle in smaller models.

"15 years ago there was no A-premium [lower medium] segment, then we launched the A3 and created it. Applying the same logic, we can create the A-saloon niche with a really compelling product."

The A3 saloon, which Sander said is large, but won't overlap with A4, will arrive in the last quarter of 2013, a few months ahead of the new A3 Cabriolet.

The Sportback will remain the dominant bodystyle of the four-model A3 range, taking more than half of sales.

The three-door will account for around 30%, with the remainder split between the saloon and Cabriolet.

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