Volkswagen AG will start its biggest technology revamp in almost 20 years when it overhauls the Audi A3 in 2012. The compact Audi will have the first of at least 40 models that will use a set of standardized parts such as steering columns, chassis and axles.
According to analysts, sharing components all throughout the brands like Seat, VW and Skoda may lower costs by 5 billion euros or $6.5 billion annually, even with the risks of a repeat of recalls that staggered Toyota Motor Corp. Analyst Christoph Stuermer at Frankfurt-based IHS Automotive explained that one may get hit by an "epidemic plague" if something goes wrong. He further stated that the more related the structures, the higher the risk of "contagion."
The technology is developed for utilization in as many as 3.5 million small and mid-sized vehicles annually. This will help Volkswagen's plan to be the most profitable and largest vehicle manufacturer in the world by 2018, outperforming General Motors Co and Toyota. The company forecasts it will slash assembly times by 30 percent and reduce production costs by 20 percent.
The company's method is more aggressive compared to the industry-standard components sharing scheme. Meanwhile, BMW AG disclosed it will reduce the cost of building the bestselling 3-Series sedan, which will be available in showrooms in February, by 7 percent to 9 percent through the use of auto parts from the midsize 5-Series and 1-Series compact.
The new Audi A3 and A3 Sportback premium compact models are not only sporty and elegant, but also feature upscale equipment and trim and advanced technologies. For instance, the new Audi A3 and A3 Sportback are powered by dynamic and sporty engines that don’t consume much fuel and don’t emit much carbon dioxide.
An Audi A3 with a 1.6 TDI under its hood only emits 99 grams of carbon dioxide per km (159.33 g/mile). In addition, the new Audi A3 and A3 Sportback could be fitted with the optional Audi magnetic ride suspension system, quattro permanent all-wheel drive and S tronic dual-clutch transmission. Likewise, the new Audi A3 and the five-door A3 Sportback could be equipped with the optional xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights.
Meanwhile, the single-frame grille element and the trims on the B-posts are now finished in high-gloss black while the lower air inlets have chrome struts. Door handles of all A3 versions – aside from the S3 -- feature chrome strips. All A3 versions now feature a diffuser insert with a characteristic rear spoiler lip. The A3 Sportback, meanwhile, feature light guide rods in its tinted tail lights.
On the other hand, the interior of the new Audi A3 is as sporty and dynamic as its exterior. This is evident on the instruments with faces backed with gray as well as on the optional flat-bottomed, leather sport steering wheel. Likewise, the center console, window lifter buttons and mirror adjuster switch are now specified with shiny aluminum-look trim inserts.
Air vents inside the new Audi A3 are now framed in black rings and the while optional navigation system feature a high-gloss bezel. Manual versions of the A3 are provided with a shift indicator in the driver information system – standard starting with the Ambition trim line.
In terms of cargo capacity, the front-wheel-drive A3 provides between 350 liters and 1,080 liters (12.36 cu. ft. and 38.14 cu. ft.) while the front-wheel-drive Audi A3 Sportback offers between 370 liters and 1,100 liters (13.07 cu. ft. and 38.85 cu. ft.).