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Audi's Mini rival on track

2007-02-20 09:53

Audi's small A1 to be production version of shooting Brake concept

The new head of Audi aims to surpass the brand's rivals in terms of profitability by 2015, he said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"Our target is to earn a return above that of all our competitors in 2015," Chief Executive Rupert Stadler said in remarks published in advance of the paper's Saturday edition.

The manager, who also serves as finance chief for the unit, forecast vehicles sales would grow to 1.5 million by that year from a current 900 000 units.

"But volume is not everything. By then revenue per vehicle should increase and also the return on sales and investment," he said, adding that its return on sales would achieve the targeted 8 percent mark earlier than 2008 as originally planned.

The manager of Ferdinand Piech's office for five years when Volkswagen Chairman Piech still served as CEO, Stadler said he would continue implementing the strategy of his predecessor, Martin Winterkorn, who now serves as head of Volkswagen.

The new Audi CEO anticipates selling more than 100 000 units of the upcoming A1 subcompact that is expected to be built in Brussels, and disputed speculation that the brand's smallest car could act as a drag on profitability.

"A subcompact must not necessarily have a low margin. A return on sales of 8% is possible through the use of group synergies," he said, mentioning also that the car was not expected to threaten sales of the comparable VW Polo.

Stadler dismissed suggestions that Audi should build a factory in the United States, where rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz each have a factory in the south, in order to reduce currency risks when exporting to the world's largest car market.

"We will think about that when we build more than 1.2 million cars. We feel very comfortable with our (US) dollar hedges through 2007. We're also well hedged for 2008," the Audi CEO said.

He lashed out at the German Green party's parliamentary group leader, Renate Kuenast, for calling on Germans to buy hybrid cars from Japanese rival Toyota that emit less carbon dioxide.

"That really angered me ... I would be happy if our politicians would stand clearly behind the (German car) industry," he said.

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