As sales continue to decline in China, Audi has decided to replace Dietmar Voggenreiter as head of its Chinese operations, according to the July edition of Audi Mobil, the brand’s in-house newspaper. At the end of the year, Voggenreiter will leave his post.
Replacing him is Joachim Wedler, who presently manages Audi’s strategy on model lines. The automaker’s sales in China (its key market) have dropped in the first half of the year, prompting it to reconsider its goal of 600,000 deliveries in the country.
In 2014, the company reported having sold 578,900 cars in China, representing a nearly 18% increase compared to the previous year. However, its sales performance has significantly gotten worse due to its aging vehicles amid a slowdown in the economy and the stock market crash in China.
Audi’s deliveries in China decreased by 5.8% in June after having declined by 1.6% last May. Last month, rival BMW’s sales volume in China fell by 1.3% to 36,887 units. So far, Mercedes-Benz has been able to avoid a downturn by offering a bigger product lineup and by revamping its operations in China.
IHS Automotive said that Audi is expected to feel the impact of the slowdown in China more intensely in the succeeding years compared to its German competition. According to estimates done by IHS, Audi’s growth could slow down to 25% for the 2014-2020 period after having enjoyed a 147% climb to around 580,000 cars during the period from 2010 to 2014.
IHS has also estimated that BMW will have a 31% increase while Mercedes-Benz will achieve a 65% improvement. If Audi’s sales in China will reach 725,000 units by 2020, it would still be much higher than the 579,000 units anticipated for BMW and the 458,000-unit estimate for Mercedes.
Audi has insisted that the changes in its ranks are not related to its poor sales performance in China. An Audi spokesman said that the “regular” management reshuffling was scheduled “well in advance,” according to an Automotive News Europe report.
Voggenreiter had held the top position at Audi’s China unit since the year 2009. China is considered by Audi to be its top market, making up around one-third of its worldwide sales.
Voggenreiter will be going back to being involved in the automaker’s operations in Germany. Last week, Audi said that it will release an update on its sales goals for China when it announces its financial results for the first half of the year on July 30.