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Audi Changes China Strategy

Audi changes strategy and opts for sports cars to drive sales
By Jin Jing 2007-6-25

AUDI AG will import its R8 sports car and A5 sports sedan into the Chinese market next year as it taps the market of private auto buyer to boost sales and raise its market share.

The R8 model will be introduced early next year and the A5 will hit the market in the first quarter, according to Werner Paul Eichhorn, general manager of FAW-Volkswagen Audi Sales Division.

"Our current product line-up and future models in China will have more sports features and target social elites," said Eichhorn. "The models would be a customer's second or third car."

The two sports models follow the imports of its Audi TT coupe and Q7 sports utility vehicle last year in China as the luxury car unit under Volkswagen AG is placing more emphasis on sports features in a switch from its earlier brand image of a "Business model" in China.

Audi used to occupy 70 percent of China's luxury car market with its Audi A4 and A6 sedans due to large procurements from the Chinese government and companies.

"We have very limited products in China before, but we have a big turnaround in the past two years with the successful launch of Audi TT, Q7 and A8," said Eichhorn, "I think with the expanding product line-up, our brand concept will be more accepted by Chinese customers."

Audi changed its strategy to lure more private auto buyers because its early domination has been challenged by the influx of other brands including Mercedes-Benz, BMW as well as Japan's Lexus made by Toyota.

But Audi accounts for 50 percent of the luxury car market now, versus BMW's 18 percent and Benz's 12 percent.
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