2011 was the most successful year in Audi’s history, as ‘the brand with the four rings’ reported a big jump in sales.
It is the quality brands that, amid the recession that has swept across the globe over the past few years, continue to buck the trends of financial woe. Following solid annual figures from rival car makers Mercedes and BMW, Audi posted some competitive figures at the start of March to coincide with the annual automotive extravaganza that is the Geneva motor show.Anyone who regularly drives in the UK will not be surprised by the sales growth; Audis - once the car for those who put a premium on quality engineering - are now almost as ubiquitous as Fords and Vauxhalls.
The brand that for years has marketed itself under the advertising logo ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ is emerging from the shadows with a range that now encompasses the entire spectrum of cars from the tiny A1 right through to the A8.
The figures speak for themselves. The German luxury marque sold more than 1.3 million cars in the past year, increasing revenue to €4.1bn. But sales don’t paint the entire picture. This has been no smash and grab with sales boosted by heavy discounts in the style of Chrysler and GM but a sustainable growth that has seen operating profits grow to €5.5bn.
“Never before have we had such a large increase in deliveries in a single year,” said Rupert Stadler, chairman of the Audi board of management. “2011 was the most successful year in our history. We want to continue on this path in 2012 and grow more strongly than the market as a whole.”
But for slightly slower than predicted growth in the BRIC markets, which has hurt all car sales in those regions, the overall car market worldwide is expected to grow by 4 per cent this year.
Reading through the figures there are records on almost every page. The number of Audi vehicles delivered increased by 19.2 per cent from 210,000 to 1,302,659. Company revenue increased at a much higher rate than sales, by 24.4 per cent to €44.1bn and operating profit by a little over 60 per cent to more than €5.3bn. Operating return on sales climbed from 9.4 per cent in 2010 to 12.1 per cent in 2011.
It is these rates of return that will enable growth in the long-term as Axel Strotbek, member of the board of management for Finance and Organisation confirmed. “With these rate-of-return ratios, the Audi Group is one of the most profitable companies in the automotive industry.”
The higher-quality model mix also contributed to the group’s healthy figures. For example, the share of revenue generated by the C- and D-segments (full-size and luxury vehicles) rose from 25 to 38 per cent between 2009 and 2011. At the same time, Audi has successfully continued expanding its model range in the lower segments, with the A1 premium three-door hatchback launched in 2010.
“We have been following a strategy of sustainable and qualitative growth for several years, and this is reflected once again in the key financial indicators for the 2011 fiscal year,” Stadler added. “The brand with the four rings wants to continue on this path with successfully launched models such as the Audi Q3 and A6.”
There is no sign of any complacency over the coming year with 18 models entering the market, ranging from the A1 Sportback to the latest generation of the high-volume model Audi A3 that was unveiled at the recent Geneva motor show.