The Audi Group plans to set new records in 2015. With more than 591,000 cars delivered in the first four months of this year, the premium brand with the Four Rings is well on the way to surpassing its record unit sales of 1.74 million automobiles in 2014. This progress will be assisted by many new and advanced Audi models. In addition to the new Audi Q7, for example, the new Audi A4 will be launched in the second half of 2015. In order to attract new customers to the Audi brand, the company plans to systematically expand its model range in the coming years. By 2020, 60 different models are to be offered, including three additional members of the Q family. The Audi Q1, the Audi Q8 and a sporty SUV with electric drive in the upper-mid segment are intended to provide a solid foundation for the Audi Group’s growth path. With a record investment program of €24 billion until 2019, the company is creating the basis to develop further models and innovative technologies and to expand its international production network. At the same time, the premium manufacturer is creating jobs. Worldwide, approximately 6,000 new employees are to be taken on board in 2015, 4,000 of them in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.
At the 126th Annual General Meeting of AUDI AG in Neckarsulm, the Board of Management explained the results of the 2014 financial year and informed the shareholders about the company’s current development. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler stated his goal for 2015: “We intend to continue growing this year – faster than the world market and in all regions. Our brand aims to set new records.”
After the best first quarter in the company’s history, Audi increased its unit sales also in April. Demand increased compared with the prior-year month in all regions of the world. Business developed positively for the Audi brand above all on the American continent. Worldwide unit sales from January through April rose by 5.2 percent to more than 591,000 automobiles (Jan.-Apr. 2014: 561,000).
Audi’s key financial metrics remained at a high level in the first quarter of 2015: For the period of January through March, the Ingolstadt-based premium manufacturer posted revenue of €14,651 million (Q1 2014: €12,951 million) and operating profit of €1,422 million (Q1 2014: €1,314 million). The operating return on sales amounted to 9.7 percent (Q1 2014: 10.1 percent).
Demand for Audi-brand models is expected to remain high worldwide. Since late March, the Ingolstadt-based premium manufacturer has been delivering the new Audi TT Roadster to customers. The new RS 3 Sportback and the new Audi R8 are now also being shipped to dealerships in some regions and will give Audi further impetus in the next stage of its model initiative. In the second half of this year, the company will present the new Audi A4 – the next generation of its best-selling model.
Audi is attractive not only with its new models. Customers’ response to innovative technologies from Ingolstadt is also very positive. For example, the company has successfully demonstrated that it fully masters the complex technology of piloted driving. In October 2014, an Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept drove laps of the Grand Prix racetrack in Hockenheim – without a driver and at speeds up to 240 km/h. And in early January, the brand with the Four Rings set a world record. Journalists traveled approximately 900 kilometers in regular traffic in an Audi driving in piloted mode. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, stated to approximately 600 shareholders and guests: “We have clearly underscored our technological leadership in the premium segment. Piloted driving by Audi will ensure more safety, more comfort and more efficiency.”
In the new premium SUV Audi Q7, which is to be launched in Europe in the second half of the year, customers can experience a preliminary stage of piloted driving with adaptive cruise control and the traffic-jam assistant. Adaptive cruise control maintains the desired distance between the Q7 and the vehicle in front by accelerating and braking automatically. In the top stage of development, the system also takes over the steering in situations of heavy traffic and at speeds up to 65 km/h. Orders received for the new Audi Q7 already exceed the company’s expectations, even before the new model is in the dealerships.
In addition to the Audi Q7, the SUV models Audi Q3 and Audi Q5 are also very well received by customers. In the coming years, the brand with the Four Rings intends to expand its range of SUVs. The new Audi Q1 is to be produced in Ingolstadt as of 2016 and the Audi Q8 is to be added at the top end of the SUV family in 2019. The company is also developing a sporty SUV with electric drive, which is to be launched in 2018. Overall, Audi plans to expand its model range from today’s 52 to 60 automobiles in 2020.
For that purpose, Audi has approved the biggest investment program in its history: €24 billion is to be invested between 2015 and 2019 – €2 billion more than in the previous planning period. 70 percent of that capital expenditure will flow into the development of new models and technologies. The German sites in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm will account for more than half of the planned investment.
Axel Strotbek, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Finance and Organization, stated: “Despite a record level of investment, we are maintaining our ambitious financial targets and plan to achieve an operating return on sales within the strategic target corridor of 8 to 10 percent also this year.”
Audi delivered a convincing performance in 2014 despite the heterogeneous market environment and increased its sales in all regions. Last year, the company delivered a total of 1,741,129 (2013: 1,575,480) automobiles of the Audi brand to its customers. This represents an increase of 10.5 percent (2013: 8.3 percent). The Audi Group increased its revenue by 7.8 percent to €53,787 million (2013: €49,880 million). Operating profit rose by 2.4 percent to €5,150 million (2013: €5,030 million). The operating return on sales amounted to 9.6 percent (2013: 10.1 percent).
Meanwhile, the Audi Group employs more than 80,000 people; the workforce grew by 5,732 employees in 2014. In order to strengthen its strategic growth path with well-qualified employees, Audi will create additional jobs also in 2015. In Germany alone, the brand with the Four Rings plans to recruit 4,000 new employees; worldwide, more than 6,000 new employees are to help enhance the brand’s “Vorsprung durch Technik.”
The company intends to continue its growth this year and to deliver significantly more automobiles of the Audi brand than in 2014. One challenge is that the economic environment and the development of key currencies are rather volatile in 2015. At the same time, advance expenditure is growing for new production capacities, innovative technologies and attractive products. Another factor is the rising intensity of competition in major markets and the technological transformation of the automobile industry towards alternative drive concepts, in particular to fulfill stricter CO2 regulations worldwide.
Along with the targeted volume growth, the Audi Group’s revenue will rise moderately, depending on the economic conditions. The company anticipates an operating return on sales once again within strategic target corridor of eight to ten percent.
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