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Niche products to drive Audi market share grab

Date: 28 July 2016   |   Author: John Mahoney

Audi has announced that new niche products, not artificial end-of-month pre-reg deals, will drive yet further growth for the German carmaker this year.

Last year, the Audi posted record sales of 166,708 - 6.3% better than 2014's performance, beating BMW (167,216) and Mercedes-Benz (145,184), - and the carmaker claims it's on track to increase market share, and volume, if the effects of Brexit do not worsen.

Criticising the reckless behaviour of other manufacturers, one senior source, speaking exclusively to BusinessCar, warned of the "heroin-like" addictive qualities of "artificial" or "fake" pre-registrations inflating record-breaking sales figures at the risk of jeopardising long-term residual values.

Audi, meanwhile, would stick to its plan of introducing new niche vehicles like the Audi Q2 to build "incremental, sustainable growth for the long-term future".

Expected to outsell the current, larger Q3, the insider told BusinessCar that the new Q2 sales could exceed 20,000 a year, quickly become the best-selling SUV Audi makes.

Early indications according to Audi's Q2 product manager Chris Batty indicated that at least 30% of all the small SUV will be bought with business cash and, out of the total number of cars sold each year, half will be new to the Audi brand.

"The unique thing about the Q2 is the nearest premium competitors are the BMW X1 or Mercedes-Benz GLA - both of those are larger cars that sit in a higher price bracket, so the new 1.0-litre turbo Q2 gives both private and business users their first entry point to a premium SUV."

Batty also explained that there will be little overlap with buyers of the bigger Q3 since the small SUV had been created to target the under forties: "It's completely different from anything else we offer. Not only does it look different, it has a really bold, cool, youthful design, so in terms of target audience it's definitely aimed at a completely different audience compared to the other SUVs in our line-up."

Batty said the high standard specification across the range will also help incentivise buyer such as user-choosers to spend time (and money) personalising their cars with features like different-coloured "side blades", exterior colour combinations, wheels and interior trim - options not previously offered in this segment.

Audi's product manager hopes extras such as the Technology pack, that introduces the Virtual cockpit from the R8 supercar and luxury Q7, will also be snapped by the younger, more tech-savvy buyers.
As well as downsizers, Batty suggested the majority of buyers will be upgrading: "There's still lots of people looking to move from their first small hatchback into their first SUV. The Q2 will fit all their needs."
Audi says the first Q2s will arrive in the UK this November.