Audi will double its sports utility vehicle lineup by 2020 in an effort to close the gap in sales behind BMW. Audi is developing the Q2, Q4 and Q6 as sportier options to its current lineup of three SUVs, a source told Bloomberg News.
Christoph Stuermer, an analyst with IHS Automotive, remarked that Audi is the first carmaker with a “grand plan to mirror" its offerings with corresponding SUVs. He noted that Audi’s high-seating SUV package is similar to “those beautiful, upright cars from the 1920s.” He added that the vehicles could become the normal car in the premium segment.
Audi’s push into SUVs underscores the expanding definition of a luxury car. Sales of high-end SUVs are expected to surge 36 percent by 2018, according to IHS Automotive. With rich consumers accepting SUVs, it has become one of the fastest-growing segments, causing Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz to come up with new models just to compete for the sales lead.
Global No. 2 Audi and No. 3 Mercedes are targeting to unseat BMW as the largest luxury car maker in the world. Volkswagen is closely monitoring Audi as it seeks to become the world's largest carmaker by 2018. Audi accounted for 48 percent of VW's operating profit in the first nine months of 2012, despite selling just 14 percent of the group's vehicles. Juergen Pieper, an analyst with Bankhaus Metzler, remarked that Audi is “decisive” for VW since the luxury brand is the most important part of the group in terms of profit, technology and branding.