Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Audi moving ahead!

Audi's latest results have put analysts in a tizzy. They are expecting that if the current trend of Audi's sales continues - it will overtake BMW in operating profits by 2010 and by 2012 it will overtake the operating revenues. Analysts expect the rate of growth of Audi to be at 10% per annum for the next three years about 3 times that of BMW. All these are fueled by the new models launched by Audi.

The sights trained on Audi after the 1998 launch of the Audi TT, never did the industry expect a car subsidiary to catch up with main manufacturers. Audi is successfully wielding the same growth strategy premium-market leader BMW deployed in 2000 to outsell Mercedes. Audi, Germany's No. 3 premium automaker, is on a tear to expand its lineup of high-performance cars such as the posh Q7 SUV and the A5 coupe, and it's employing head-turning design to steal customers from the competition.

The numbers tell the story. In the first half of 2007, Audi's worldwide car sales rose 9.8%, to 509,079, as revenues rose 12.4%, to $24 billion. Global sales at BMW were up 4.5%, to 730,285, by comparison, while Mercedes' fell 3%, to 591,200. First-half revenues at Audi rose 12.4%, to $24 billion. Mercedes edged up 1%, to $34 billion. BMW releases first-half financial results on Aug. 1.

With the growing brand awarness - older models, that usally have a lifespan of 3- 4 years usually decline - however, the Audi A4- a Six year old Audi starts at $28000.

Audi managed to sell 162,900 A4 sedans in the first half of this year, up 1.5% over the same period a year ago. And now it is planning to unveil a new-generation A4 in September, which should give it yet more room to run.

In the first half, Audi's U.S. sales rose 13%. Until recently Audi sold its cars in the U.S. through Volkswagen dealerships, which muddled its image by association with a mass-market brand. In markets such as Miami, Los Angeles, and New York, upscale glass-and-steel dealerships have opened, helping to lure buyers with higher incomes. The edgy, minimalist design of the new dealerships exudes upmarket ambience.

Audi is not just selling more cars, it's making more money on those cars. First-half earnings zoomed ahead as more expensive models and an increasingly tony brand image reaped higher margins per car. In the first half, operating profit increased 39.5%, to $1.38 billion, and net profit rose 67%, to $937 million. That puts Audi's 6.4% operating margins on a par with Mercedes' long-term returns and very close to BMW margins. Audi's management vowed two years ago to be the world's most successful premium car manufacturer by 2015.

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