Chinese bureaucrats have shown a preference for Audi’s vehicles. It is this image as a government car that has placed it at a disadvantage as this market’s wealthy young buyers are instead opting for BMW and Mercedes-Benz models.
Within less than 2 years, Audi’s share in the luxury car sales in China has fallen by 25% in as state agencies and executives tighten budgets and younger buyers look for alternatives to sedans that have been identified as government vehicles. In the 1980s, Audi has supplied around 70% of cars used by the government and state-held enterprises.
Shaun Rein, Shanghai-based managing director of China Market Research Group, said that Audi is being seen as “a bit old-fashioned.” Rein said that BMW and Mercedes are doing well because their vehicles are seen to be “sexier, more indulgent.” Industry researcher J.D. Power & Associates said that Daimler AG’s Mercedes raised its share of Chinese luxury-car sales to 22% during the January-June 2011 period from 16% in 2009. BMW’s share increased to 25% from 21%.
Meanwhile, Audi’s share fell to 30% from 40%. Jenny Gu, a Shanghai-based analyst at J.D. Power, said that Audi cannot rely on government sales since this demand will probably decline. She believes that private consumers will represent a much higher demand as buyers want to upgrade their vehicles.
That’s why there’s a lot hanging on the shoulders of Dietmar Voggenreiter, Audi’s president for China, who has to reverse the market-share drop. Audi, whose luxury sedans represent the majority of its sales in China, has launched more stylish models like the R8 Spyder sports car and the A1 subcompact this year. It plans to import the Q3 sport-utility vehicle in 2012 but it will soon be building it locally.
Audi Q3 is a premium sports utility vehicle in a compact-class form. The youngest member of the Audi family, the Q3 is Audi’s entry into a new market segment.
It features Audi technology in every aspect – from its body to its chassis, to the drivetrain, to its assistance and multimedia systems. In fact, many of the solutions that it showcases come straight from the company’s luxury class.
The Q3 has coupe-like lines that give it a sporty look. It has sharp edges that frame arched sheet metal surfaces as well as unique lights that accentuate both its front and rear ends. It also features LED tail lights and wedge-shaped headlights that are optionally available with LED daytime running lights and xenon plus units.
Highlighting the Audi Q3’s dynamics are its very flat D-pillars and its low roof line, which starts dropping early. There are also add-on parts that are available in variants. Customers can pick between black, anthracite, or the car’s body color. They also have a choice between two exterior packages.
Q3’s base version weighs 1,445 kilograms or 3,186 lbs. It has safe, rigid, and quiet occupant cell that incorporates several ultra-high-strength steels. The car also has aluminum engine hood and tailgate. And as is typical of Audi’s Q models, the undivided tail lights are incorporated onto the tailgate, which wraps around the pillars. The coefficient of drag is unusually low at 0.32. The compact SUV is 4.39 meters long, 1.83 meters wide and 1.59 meters high.
Additionally, the Audi Q3 has sufficient space for five passengers, and offers great ergonomics and workmanship. A large arc that extends from one front door to the other – called the wrap-around – is a design feature of the Q3 that is borrowed from the large Audi model series. Customers can also personalize their Q3 with a variety of materials and colors for the interior for them to choose from.