THE WEEK THAT WAS: Live from Ingolstadt...

By Graeme Roberts | 15 March 2013

Munich postal sorters once toiled under this dome in the circular Postpalast. Today its a venue for events like an Audi press dinner

Munich postal sorters once toiled under this dome in the circular Postpalast. Today it's a venue for events like an Audi press dinner

Most of the good news this week emanated from Germany where yours truly was reporting and tweeting live, for the first time ever, ladies and gentlemen, from the annual results press conference at Ingolstadt, Hauptstadt der Audi.

What little I saw of this industrial town north of a cold and wet Munich (do not visit Bavaria in winter unless planning skiing) reminded me of under-previous-management East Berlin which used to be heralded by autobahn signs saying 'Hauptstadt der DDR' instead of just 'Berlin, Ost'.

Then the A8L limo wafted onto the vast forecourt of the Audi Forum and adjacent autofabrik and it's 'hello post-1989 Berlin' instead. Very impressive.

Volkswagen Group's luxury car unit, buoyed by another good year, albeit with a bit of margin shrinkage here and there, really set out to impress (and spend a lot of money) at the PostPalast (the fanciest building I have ever seen to once house a parcel sorting centre) preconditioning assorted global hacks with live music and magic acts, an excellent three-course dinner, demos of coming new technology (such as a driverless, self-parking A5) and the usual line-up of scripted-speech suits each highlighting the success of a particular division (like Ducati or Lamborghini).

The press conference itself was just as well organised - and scripted - and, though a certain colleague dismisses such events as 'death by 1,000 slides', I quite enjoy them for who's there (and can be nabbed for a quick question of two), the detailed drilling down through some of the results themselves and what gets asked afterwards. That, this year, included a question to the all-male top table line-up about why there were no women up there; deftly fielded with a statistics-laden reply about the female percentage of this year's graduate and apprentice intakes.

This coming Monday is Groundhog Day - same flight, same seat back to Munich for BMW's version of How We Did In 2012. This time, though, there's no limo to my home airport. I'm sure you'll feel my pain.... I'm staying on for a look at some of the preparations for the upcoming i series of electric vehicles; planes, trains and dire snow forecasts permitting.

Still with Audi for a moment, one of our number doing some real work ferreted out interesting news about the upcoming A3 sedan/saloon (there was some buzz it would appear at the results event but was kept under wraps even though there was a large Chinese contingent present). It will make its debut at the Shanghai show next month.

BMW should be pretty upbeat after last year's results and Volkswagen also confirmed a heathy set of figures this week though, understandably, is being cautious with the 2013 outlook. We've also just published news of a profit uptick in Japan, too.

A final bit of German good news: Porsche, since last August finally fully within the VW empire, is hiring 1,000 for its Leipzig plant as it turns it from a final assembly factory into a fully-fledged facility with welding and painting shops.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com