Audi gains more U.S. market share amid economic downturn

July 31, 2009 11:46 pm 

NEW YORK, Aug. 1 — German luxury automaker Audi AG said on Friday that it has gained a more-than-expected market share in the United States in the first half of 2009 amid the economic downturn.

Audi of America, the American unit of the German carmaker, reported that it has an 8.3-percent market share in the United States through the first six months of this year, compared with 6. 5 percent in the same period of 2008. It had earlier predicted its U.S. market share to be 7.7 percent in the first half.

The popular Audi Q5 crossover vehicle and the new Audi Q7 TDI clean diesel model with strong consumer demand contributed to the increase of market share for the first half of 2009, according to the company.

"We exceeded our target and each month of 2009 has demonstrated the strength of the Audi brand in the face of difficult economic headwinds," Johan de Nysschen, president of Audi of America, told reporters in New York.

In addition, Audi A4 Cabriolet also performed quite positively in the U.S. market, achieving its best monthly sale since June 2008 of 737 units in June this year. Overall sales of the Audi A4 model portfolio reached 18,101 through the first six months of the year.

In face of the crisis, said Johan, the company would set its eye on a long-term strength in the U.S. market with right product being used on the right place.

"The better performance of Audi is happening without extraordinary pricing strategies, which is a testament to the long- run momentum Audi has developed," said Nysschen.

On all its new models, the Audi brand is devoting special attention to high efficiency and environmental compatibility. It is promoting diesel vehicles to American consumers as a better way to cut oil use than hybrid and electric cars. A diesel Q7 sport- utility vehicle went on sale six weeks ago, and a diesel A3 wagon is due at the end of this year.

"We will promote the diesel products in the U.S. step by step," said the president.

Audi Group recorded a significant operating profit of 823 million euros (about 1.163 billion U.S. dollars) for the first six months, down 36.6 percent compared with the same period of the previous year, which was 1.3 billion euros (about 1.8 billion U.S. dollars).

However, "we're very satisfied with the result for the first half-year, but are keeping our feet on the ground because we expect to face some difficulties in the second half of the year," said Axel Strotbek, board member for finance and organization at Audi AG. (PNA/Xinhua) ALM

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