Blog: Dave LeggettIs Audi overdoing it with niche models and SUVs?

Dave Leggett | 11 May 2015

When you think of Audi what springs to mind? For me, it's still the elegance, performance and advanced technologies typified by the first generation A8 that came to market in the mid-90s. Understated looks, clean styling lines and a fast car. There's the pioneering use of aluminium, of course, for lighter weight. And it always looked very good in silver. The fact that it is Audi is a statement in itself; Teutonic engineering values, yes, but this is not a BMW or a Mercedes and both of those brands say something else. Audi has always been about sporty performance (think Quattro), but it's also a little bit subtle, not flashy. Advanced features and technologies for discerning drivers. Well, that sums up my take, traditionally, on the premium brand from Ingolstadt.

However, the brand image - for me, anyway - has changed a little in recent years with the sight of so many SUVs bearing the four Audi rings on the grille. I'd take an S4 Avant over a Q7 every time, but there are clearly many customers for large SUVs and also the smaller ones that Audi now sells. Is Audi overdoing it? Moving into too many niches? It's a fine judgement perhaps. If you can produce more vehicles that perfectly fit different customer needs, that's the way to build share, volume and profit (especially as part of a bigger industrial group for engineering and parts sharing).

Audi has been very, very successful at steadily growing its model offerings that target market niches. There must be limits though, a point at which the product offering becomes crowded or target customer groups overlap and return on investment for new models starts to decline. And at some point, your brand image is changed if you have moved too far from the core or traditional product strengths. Audi, purveyor of comfortable and really rather quick SUVs. No, that does not have a nice ring to it.

GERMANY: SUVs to account for almost half of Audi sales by 2020 - Stadler

ANALYSIS: Has Audi reached a limit with model proliferation?


Sectors: Vehicle manufacturers

Companies: Audi, Mercedes, BMW


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