BRAZIL: A3 hatchback excluded from initial Audi plans
The only surprise when Audi’s EUR150m/BRL450m/US$200m spend in Brazil was announced late on Monday (17 September) was the absence of the A3 hatchback from the start up range.
Instead, the German automaker opted for the A3 saloon which is not yet imported (it's due early in 2014) and the Q3 SUV derivative, on sale here for the last four months.
Also notable: the amount Audi CEO Rupert Stadler told Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff the automaker would spend on a plant in his country was significantly less than the EUR250m/BRL750m arch rival BMW now plans to spend on its own local plant.
Reason: Audi will (again) share the Volkswagen facilities in São José dos Pinhais, in the state of Paraná. Audi produced the three- and five-door A3 hatchback in this plant from 1999 to 2006 along with the Golf 'Mark IV' it still churns out.
The state’s fiscal incentives pack was knitted together with Volkswagen although Stadler did not comment on it.
Although not announced, just-auto is taking eventual production of the latest Golf 'VII' at this plant for granted. For a time initially, the model will be imported assembled from Germany and the sales start is imminent. The Golf IV phase-out is scheduled for November, enabling the plant to be refurbished and tooled up for the new model by the second half of 2014, a year or so before A3 output starts again.
Sharing the A3's MQB architecture with the Golf also explains why Audi is spending less to restart Brazilian production. The 1.4 litre/84.4 cu in, flexible fuel ethanol/petrol engine also helps reduce costs as that, too, will be made locally - by the VW engine plant in São Carlos, São Paulo state.
Off the record comments by insiders suggest the A3 hatchback was left out of the new range to leave the sector free for the Golf since it is a core model for VW in Brazil and the brand intends to lead the C hatchback segment, as in the past.
It is nonetheless likely the hatch - and the A4 line as well - will go into production here in a second phase of local Audi build.
After all, BMW plans to make its A4-rivalling 3 Series here and Mercedes-Benz will soon announce local production of both the GLA- and C-Class, both of which compete with the VW Group models.