Audi has doubled its growth in Saudi market in last 5 years
Audi has doubled its growth in Saudi market in last 5 years
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Enrico Atanasio, director of Audi Middle East, confirmed that in 2016 Audi will launch more than 20 new or updated models globally.
He pointed out that Saudi Arabia has its own office to focus on that market after sales have doubled in the last five years.
The first stand-alone Audi Sport showroom in the world will open later this year in Abu Dhabi.
These are highlights from the interview:
• How do you see changes in the regional markets this year in view of the decline in global oil prices?
Despite the decline in global oil prices, Audi has remained on track internationally and surpassed its threshold of 1.8 million deliveries (+3.6 percent).
Indeed, the company has had six years of uninterrupted growth, with 72 record-breaking months in succession.
During 2015, there were sales gains in over 30 markets worldwide and in the US, Audi is growing at twice the rate of the market, exceeding the 200,000 mark for the first time in our corporate history.
We have seen a balanced global sales trend in 2015 with growth drivers in all segments: in the compact segment with the A3 and TT, in the mid-size segment with the Q5, and in the full-size category with the Audi Q7.
SUV unit sales increased in 2015 again by an astonishing 6 percent to 538,000.
Here in the Middle East we have sustained our volumes in 2015 with over 11,000 sales.
We have recorded growth in this market for 10 successive years.
Globally, we have had a successful start for the A3 e-tron which is the best-selling compact premium electric car in Western Europe.
In terms of new models, the new Q7 and A4 have been launched successfully in Europe but have not been available in all regions of the world.
In the Middle East, we launched the Q7 in October 2015 and the A4 will only arrive at dealerships from March.
Audi will launch more than 20 new or updated models globally in 2016.
• How do you see the potential of the Saudi market and can you outline your efforts in that market?
The Saudi market is proof of this global success and now has an independent office to focus specifically on this market.
Saudi Arabia represents 44 percent of the entire Middle East Passenger car market and is constantly growing.
Indeed growth rates have been almost 100 percent over the last 5 years in Saudi Arabia for Audi.
• How did Audi perform in the region last year and what are the sales targets for this year?
For Audi Middle East (excluding KSA) we maintained our volumes for 2015 with sales of over 11,000
In recent market forecasts for 2016, there are mounting challenges and growing headwinds.
We remain optimistic for Audi, particularly in light of the very positive response to our new Q7 and A4 models where they have been launched.
Their global rollout in 2016 will provide important momentum.
In the Middle East, we are forecasting to sustain our volumes for 2016 despite challenging circumstances. The all-new Audi Q7 will have a full year of sales, having only recently arrived in 2015 and we will also introduce the all-new Audi A4 in the market from April onwards.
• What new Audi products should we expect in the region this year? Is there demand yet for hybrid, plug-in hybrid cars in the region? And which is the best-selling model in the region- and in Saudi Arabia?
We have an exciting year planned for Audi Middle East with market introductions of the all-new Audi R8 and the all-new Audi A4.
Audi Sport is a key theme for 2016 and we are thrilled to make this a real focus for our customers in our showrooms.
In November 2016, we will present the first stand-alone Audi Sport Showroom in the world in Abu Dhabi.
Other new models expected in the Middle East include the RS6 Performance , the RS7 Performance, the RS Q3 performance and the S8 plus.
Our best-selling model in the region is the Q7 with almost 20 percent of our total volume.
In Saudi Arabia, the most popular Audi is the A8 L representing 33 percent of the sales there.
For 2016, we expect our all-new Q7 shall be equally popular vehicle along with A8L.
Regarding hybrid cars, we are definitely seeing a growing interest in these vehicles and we are watching this.
Audi has great success globally with the e-tron range, but at this moment in time there is no immediate plan to bring this range of cars to the Middle East.
• How different do you find the Middle East markets to other markets you have worked in?
My first challenge was to understand the geography of the region.
Every country in the Middle East has its own culture and diversities.
Even here at AVME we have employees from 27 different countries in one office.
So, one of my main challenges is to understand and integrate all of those cultural needs into our future strategy, not just within AVME but also at our dealerships and most importantly for our customers.
• What changes regional governments can undertake to encourage lower fuel consumption and perhaps alternative energy?
Audi is investing billions in its electrification strategy.
The A3 e-tron and Q7 e-tron models have already become successfully established in many markets and the all-electric SUV, which will launch in 2018, represents a milestone of our broad-based strategy.
It will allow us to consistently electrify additional model lines.
It remains to be seen however, if we will see these models in the Middle East.
• What are the preferred options in Audi cars requested by regional consumers?
If you look at the values of Audi, there are three core values for the brand: Firstly sportiness, we are a sporty brand and our race victories at Le Mans and in the DTM demonstrate that.
The second value is sophistication and the premium quality you can find in an Audi.
If you look at the stitching of an Audi A8 for instance, you see the dedication and commitment made by our engineers and designers to detail and to make the best cars in the market.
The third value is progressiveness. And I think this is probably the most important one of the three in our customer’s eyes. The slogan of our brand is ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ and there is no other brand as avant-garde as Audi due to our technology and also our progressiveness.
If you look at our customer profile they look for sportiness in a premium brand, they demand sophistication of course, but what they really like in Audi is the progressiveness. In this region, our customers also demand exclusivity and individuality. Indeed we are one of the top five regions in the world for the amount of exclusive features requested on our cars.
These features range from exclusive paint colors, bespoke interior stitching and premium sound systems.
• Will the dealership network expand any further in 2016 and if so in which countries?
We are present with service and sales facilities in all of the countries we’re responsible for in the region.
We are a growing brand, so we need to increase our service capacity and we are currently developing extended service facilities in Kuwait, Dubai, Lebanon and Doha.
As our model range is growing, we also need to increase our capacity of both sales and pre-owned car showrooms.
In January, we opened a new terminal in Abu Dhabi and this will be accompanied by the first stand-alone Audi Sport showroom in the world later this year.
Porsche could build flying taxis, says sales chief
FRANKFURT: Volkswagen’s sports car maker Porsche could develop a flying passenger vehicle to compete with rivals in a possible market for urban air taxis and ride-sharing services, Porsche sales chief Detlev von Platen told a German magazine.
“That would really make sense. If I drive from (the Porsche plant in) Zuffenhausen to Stuttgart airport, I need at least half an hour, if I’m lucky. Flying would take only three and a half minutes,” Automobilwoche quoted von Platen as saying.
Porsche would join a raft of companies working on designs for flying cars in anticipation of a shift in the transport market away from conventional cars to self-driving vehicles shared via ride-hailing apps.
Volkswagen’s auto designer Italdesign and Airbus at last year’s Geneva auto show presented a two-seater flying car, called Pop.Up, designed to avoid gridlock on city roads.
The magazine said that under Porsche’s plans, passengers would be able to have some control over the flying vehicle themselves but would not need a pilot license because many of the car’s functions would be automated.
Potential competitors to a flying vehicle made by Porsche would be German start-ups Volocopter, backed by Daimler , Lilium Jet and eVolo, as well as US-based Terrafugia and California-based Joby Aviation.