AM Online

Audi steps up BMW battle

Audi is pre-empting BMW’s new 3- series by bringing a “massively revised” A4 to market this November as part of a drive objective to get ahead of its rival by 2008.

Speaking at the Audi A3 Sportback press launch – which goes on UK sale on September 10 – Kevin Rose, the brand’s UK director, says: “We have a simple business objective in the UK and that is to beat BMW on various fronts. It is a rallying call to my team.”

By sustaining improvements in brand image, retailer profitability and customer satisfaction – the latter in which, Rose claims, his company is already eclipsing BMW – Audi can overhaul its German rival in volume sales by 2008, given the continuing migration to premium brands and an annual UK new car market staying at around 2.6m.

Key to this will be the revised A4. Featuring changes to almost every body panel, it will also include Audi’s new signature grille, significant interior changes, revised suspension and a turbocharged 2.0-litre FSI engine variant.

Coupled with the Sportback and other new models arriving by 2006, including an A4-based coupe and an SUV, the new range should push Audi UK’s sales volume up to 100,000 from last year’s 71,000 new registrations.

Audi remains on track to cut the number of retail partners from 50 to 40, in line with its “more from less” retailer strategy, although it will continue to operate 120 dealerships. It also has plans for up to 30 standalone service centres plus “a handful of geographically significant” separate used-car operations within three years.

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