The demand for Audi vehicles from China, Germany and the U.S. have been so high that the company is on track to hit its goal of selling 1.5 million cars annually earlier than its target date of 2015. At last Thursday’s annual shareholder meeting, CEO Rupert Stadler said that the Volkswagen Group premium brand is expecting double-digit growth in auto sales in China and the U.S. in 2012.
He also divulged that Audi’s deliveries in Europe will at least match the levels of the previous year even as the financial growth in its home region is slowing. Audi is competing for the top position with Mercedes-Benz, which it surpassed last year, to grab the luxury-sales lead from BMW by the end of the decade.
Audi reported a 12% increase in its four-month deliveries to 471,300. BMW’s sales increased by 10% to 478,030 units. Meanwhile, the Mercedes brand's volume rose by 10% to 418,246. In a separate speech last Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Axel Strotbek said that just as long as economies don’t crash, Audi could achieve last year's record operating profit of 5.35 billion euros ($6.92 billion) in 2012. The operating profit of Audi in the first quarter rose 27% to a record-breaking 1.4 billion euros.
Audi hopes to have faster growth than the overall auto industry by presenting 18 new or refreshed models in 2012. These include a new-generation A3 compact and a hybrid version of the A6 sedan.
Last April, Audi revealed that it was planning to build its first North American plant in Mexico, which will start rolling out the Q5 mid-sized SUV in 2016. This plant is vital to Audi's aggressive expansion plans in the U.S. and around the world. In 2011, Audi reported sales of 1.3 million vehicles, BMW brand had sales of 1.38 million units while Mercedes sold 1.26 million. [source: Reuters]