The Q3 compact SUV from Audi, Volkswagen AG's luxury brand, will compete against the X1 of BMW AG as the two luxury carmakers hope to take advantage of the increasing demand for SUVs in urban areas. Audi is aiming to outperform BMW as the leading company in the luxury cars segment, which BMW created when it introduced the X1’s in 2009.
In 2010, BMW recorded sales of almost 100,000 X1s, accounting for 8.2 percent of the company’s overall sales. On the other hand, Audi is planning an annual production of 100,000 units for the Q3, according to Chief Executive Officer Rupert Stadler during the Shanghai motor show.
The Q3 will go on sale in June with a starting price of 29,900 euros, making the vehicle model around 7,000 euros cheaper than the mid-sized Q5 models. In addition, the Q3 is also 24 centimeters (9.5 inches) shorter than the Q5. The Q3 will appeal to the emerging urban centers market, especially to the female drivers, Audi's development chief Michael Dick disclosed in an interview at the motor show.
In order to meet stricter environmental regulations as well as to attract drivers in the urban market, luxury automakers are expanding their product lines of compact vehicles. For one, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz is planning a small SUV, and will begin launching an extended range of four compact vehicles with an overhauled B class within the year.
Also, Alfa Romeo of Fiat S.p.A. is contemplating on developing a compact SUV when it goes back to the United States. Frankfurt-based analyst Christoph Stuermer at IHS Automotive stated that the compact vehicle is something that suburban moms will drive to bring their children around.
He added that the vehicle is a niche alternative for large urban areas in Japan, Europe and China. According to BMW spokesperson, Andreas Lampka, the company intends to maintain its position in the segment with the X1 being the company’s second bestseller after the X5. The X1, which is installed with cleaner engines, is sold in all markets outside North America.