New car showroom: Audi has 160 authorized dealerships in 95 cities, the biggest sales network among all premium car brands in China. It has announced plans to increase the number to more than 210 by 2012. [China Daily]
Icon that defines status in China says sales to grow at least 25%
German luxury carmaker Audi, owned by Volkswagen Group, plans to build additional production capacity in China to meet mounting demand in the world's biggest vehicle market.
Johannes Thammer, general manager of the Audi sales division at Sino-German joint venture FAW Volkswagen Automobile Co, said last week in an interview that Audi has plans to further expand capacity in China to meet its target of selling 250,000 cars annually by 2012 or 2013.
Audi's 2009 China sales surged by 33 percent to 157,188 vehicles over the year previous, easily maintaining its long reign over the country's premium car segment.
The strong growth made China the company's second-biggest market in the world after Germany, where it moved 228,844 units last year.
"We will not allow production capacity to be a bottleneck for our sales growth," Thammer said "We need to increase production capacity every year to keep pace with our sales momentum."
He said FAW Volkswagen plans to expand overall production capacity from 660,000 units to 1 million units a year in the near future, with Audi a part of the expansion.
The company opened a new 100,000-unit facility last September in northeastern city of Changchun that raised its total production capacity in China to 200,000 units annually.
"Success in China will be an important part of Audi's goal to be the most successful premium car brand globally in 2015," Thammer said.
Arch-rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz are also in the race to expand production in China to further tap the local luxury car market.
BMW announced in November that it plans to increase capacity in China to 300,000 units a year over the long term from the 41,000 cars it made last year. Its production this year will rise to 75,000 units.
Mercedes-Benz also has long-term plans to lift capacity to 75,000 to 100,000 units a year from the 30,000 currently.
Thammer said Audi expects its sales in China to grow by 25 to 30 percent this year from 2009.
"The overall premium segment in China will rise by 25 to 30 percent this year and we want to grow at a similar pace at least," he said.
Last year 392,000 premium cars were sold in China, a surge of 38 percent from 2008, according to data provided by Audi.
China sales of BMW and Mercedes-Benz grew by 38 percent and 77 percent last year, but started from a much smaller base than Audi.
Thammer said Audi plans to introduce a slew of new products into China this year including the locally made Q5 SUV and upgraded Audi A6L and A4L sedans, as well as imported all-new A8L, A5 Sportback, A3, R8 spyder and Q7 3.0T.
Audi will also further develop its used car and auto financing businesses in China this year, he said.
Audi's sales last year in China included 104,217 units of the locally made A6L, 37,461 units of the locally produced A4L and 14,821 units of imported models such as A8L, Q7 and TT.
The brand now has 160 authorized dealerships in 95 Chinese cities, the biggest sales network among all premium car brands in the country.
It has announced that it plans to increase the dealership number to more than 210 by 2012.