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May 7, 2008

GERMANY: Audi ‘needs’ US plant

Speaking at the brand’s annual general meeting today, Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler has confirmed that Audi would benefit from a US production plant.

Speaking at the brand’s annual general meeting today, Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler confirmed that Audi would benefit from a US production plant.

According to Reuters, although Stadler has said before that he was looking into a cooperation with Volkswagen, which is planning a US plant, today’s comments suggest that Audi is struggling to deliver growth in the US because of current exchange rates as well as sharp rises in the cost of raw materials.

Audi reported sales growth of 2.9% (86,765 units) in April, giving 1.7% growth in the first four months of the year (338,083 units). The strongest growth came from eastern Europe and Asia Pacific.

Stadler said that Audi planned to expand its dealership in Asia in the face of weakening demand in Europe and the US. He said the number of dealers in China would expand to 220 by 2012, compared with 132 at present.

Stadler commented on the CO2 challenge and reaffirmed the brand’s target to reduce fuel consumption by 20% by 2012. He said that as much as 18 percentage points of this could be achieved through engine modifications, and that average fleet CO2 emissions would fall by an average 10g/km this year. Audi’s average fleet emissions are currently around 170g/km.

Stadler said that investment in new products would continue at around EUR2bn a year. Diesel technology would be priority.

“Our TDI will become the cleanest diesel engine in the world this year, thanks to its ultra low emission system. This reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 90%,” said Stadler.

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