Audi is comfortable it can maintain its premium brand position despite growing volumes that see it placed as the UK’s number four fleet brand, behind just Ford, Vauxhall and VW. 

“When you look at the market share in Germany and premium share, it’s much bigger than the UK, and still the brands are considered very premium, so I compare with that,” Audi UK director Andre Konsbruck told BusinessCar. “Audi enjoys a market share of 8% and premium brands [have] 28%, so that’s why I still see potential in the UK.”

He continued: “Premium has nothing to do with volume. We have to deliver quality with the right customer experience where people feel different to mainstream volume cars – service, product quality, especially RVs. As long as you manage to keep these at a premium level, even if I sell 200,000 cars, nothing changes. Not that I’m aiming for that.”

Konsbruck is confident of Audi maintaining its position as the top premium brand in the face of increased competition from BMW and Mercedes, due in part to the raft of new product – including the new A4 coming late this year – that’s arriving to refresh what he admits is the oldest line-up among the premium brands.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a handicap – we still have the best RV and we’re still very competitive, especially in corporate, where it’s about cost of ownership,” he said. “It is a challenge and we shouldn’t underestimate it, but I’m optimistic that 159,000 cars is not the end of the story in the UK.”

The evolving economic situation will also impact premium brands more than their volume counterparts, according to Konsbruck, who said as interest rates potentially rise in 2016, more disposable income will go into mortgages, so fewer people will be able to afford to step up to a premium brand. 

“Our aim is to be number one, and sustain our position, in the premium segment,” he said. “If we had to defend our number one position with 500 or 1000 cars [into low-margin channels], it’s something you can do, but proactively you won’t find Audis in these channels.”

He concluded: “You look at some others and I don’t know why they are doing it. We are all here to make money and not just move metal.”

Audi has gone from 17 to 50 separate models, including bodystyles, in the past 14 years, and although the total entries in its price list has recently been rationalised from more than 700 down to 509, a spokesman said it “won’t stay that low for long”. New models coming this year before the new A4 include the Q7 large SUV and new R8 supercar.