Audi of America President Scott Keogh is not mincing words when talking about rival Tesla in an interview last Friday. Keogh emphasized that Tesla is a true competitor in the luxury segment as it is capable of selling a vehicle for over $100,000. He said that Tesla is "cool" and is "the talk of the town” as well as a source of inspiration for automakers to continue innovating and creating challenges.
However, Keogh is casting doubts on Tesla’s decision to skip dealers and sell directly to consumers. He added that Audi hopes to sell over 150,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2013, establishing a sales record for sales in the country that is its No. 3 biggest market. Meanwhile, Tesla aims to sell 21,000 Model S sedans globally this year.
Tesla has been in conflict with car dealerships in U.S. courts and state legislatures because it doesn’t make use of the dealer model that other automakers follow. Keogh said that dealers have personal connections to potential customers through schools and other communities. Keogh said that Audi is focusing its marketing strategy in the U.S. on clean-diesel technology.
However, it also hopes to compete with Tesla in the sale of plug-in electric vehicles. Audi is required to do this to comply with California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate. Keogh said that diesel will be one of the four ways that Audi will comply with the fuel-economy standards in the U.S. He cited plug-in hybrids, plug-in electrics as well as improvements to the internal combustion engine. Keogh cited that it won’t be sustainable for the company to pay.