The Ingolstadt-based premium-price car maker Audi increased revenues and set a vehicle sales record in 2000, chairman Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen said.

Audi group’s sales increased to DM39 billion ($US18 billion) compared with DM29.6 billion ($US14 billion) in 1999. This included results from the Italian importer Autogerma S.p.A. for the first time.

Excluding Autogerma from the results, sales increased by 8.4 percent to DM32.1 billion ($US15 billion).

Capital investments last year rose by around DM1 billion ($US472 million) to DM4 billion ($US1.8 billion) compared with DM2.966 billion ($US1.4 billion) in 1999. This was due mainly to the Autogerma purchase.

Audi sold 653,404 vehicles to customers worldwide, 2.9 percent more than in the previous year. The group also sold 296 Lamborghini sports cars (up 11.7 percent).

Together with the other VW group brands sold through Autogerma, Audi sold a total of 919,621 vehicles.

In the USA, the largest export market, Audi achieved the best sales ever with 80,372 vehicles (up 21.9 percent).

The company’s products also held their own in the German home market despite a marked decline and the changeover to the new A4, Audi’s high-volume model. Sales of 239,644 units were down seven percent.

Audi was able to increase its market share in 2000 to 6.9 percent (6.8 percent in 1999), the highest in Germany since 1987.

269,024 cars were sold in Europe outside Germany (up 0.1 percent) and the number of Audis sold in Japan climbed by 8.4 percent to 6,972 units. 57,392 cars were delivered to customers in other markets (up 60.1 percent). This figure includes 17,451 vehicles sold in China (up 152.5percent).

Production increased by four percent to 650,850 units, including 291 Lamborghini Diablo models. The highest volume model was the A4 which accounted for 227,028 units, followed by the A6 (169,276), A3 (136,141), TT (56,776), A2 (32,164), A8 (12,894) and the allroad quattro (11,439). 1,187,666 engines were produced (down 6.3 percent).

The number of employees in the Audi Group increased during the year to a record 50,535 (up 8.5 percent) and by 2,722 to 43,862 employees (up 6.6 percent) at German plants.

Audi Hungaria employed a workforce of 4,831, Lamborghini 440, Autogerma 624 and Cosworth Technology 764.

“Our goal for this year is quantitative and qualitative growth”, said Paefgen. “Our sound basis will allow us to make extensive provisions for the future.”

This is, he said, would be reflected in innovative products such as the A8 6.0 L quattro with 12-cylinder engine and the latest A2 with a fuel consumption of just three litres per 100 kilometres. Both vehicles will be launched in the next few months.

Audi’s medium-term investment plan earmarks a record DM17 billion ($US8 billion) up to 2005. “This includes many new profit opportunities for Audi in the long term and a further strengthening of the company’s competitiveness on the world market”, concluded the chairman.