AUDI, the luxury car maker marque headquartered in Ingolstadt, Germany and a subsidiary of Volkswagen has set its sights on becoming the top premium car brand by 2020 and is putting its money where its mouth is in this regard.
Closer to home, ATL Automotive is seeing to it that Audi becomes the class leader in the premium segment.
The car-maker is investing 13 billion euros (US$17.1 billion) to develop a number of new models to battle with BMW and Mercedes. Some eight million euros (US$10.6 billion) has been earmarked for the company's plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.
Audi will expand their plants in Gyor, Hungary and Foshan, China as well as open a new factory in San Jose Chippa, Mexico.
The car with the four interlocking rings on its grille lives by its credo, "Vorsprung durch Technik" - "Innovation through Technology". It has also upped the ante on the style quotient and is renown for its refinement and sedate good looks. A decade ago Audi posed no discernable threat to BMW. Today BMW is looking over its shoulders and Audi's growing popularity is threatening the longer established German premium car brand.
According to BMW, it sold a total of 1.845 million vehicles last year, an increase of 10.6 per cent over 2011, while Audi was able to increase sales by 11.7 per cent to 1.455 million units. Audi has declared that it is aiming to sell over two million vehicles by the end of the decade.
Sales growth for Audi is driven primarily by demand outside of Europe. This week marks three years since ATL has represented the Audi brand in Jamaica. Back then only 14 units were sold a year. Last year ATL Autohaus sold 178 units.
Last year, Audi's US sales grew by 18.5 per cent and its Asian sales leapt by 28.1 per cent with Chinese sales up by 29.6 per cent. India has seen sales rise by an incredible 63.4 per cent
In India, Audi sold 9,003 vehicles last year, including 931 in December alone. It is confident of becoming the largest luxury car maker there by 2015. BMW India is yet to report its sales performance for 2012.
Ireland's Independent.ie is reporting that Mercedes and BMWs have been replaced by Audi, as the wheels of choice for executives of Ireland and is now the top-selling premium car in that country. In 2011 Audi sold 3,318 cars in Ireland against BMW's 3,277 and Mercedes 1915 cars. For that year Audi's sales rose by 22 per cent.
Audi's Sales and Marketing chief Luca de Meo said: "Audi ran up new records in all regions in 2012. In Europe we grew against the negative market trend and extended our lead as the strongest premium brand."
He attributed the car-maker's success to new models including the new four-wheel drive Audi Q3.
Technology and innovation
Last month the reputable MIT Technology Review announced its list of "the 50 most disruptive companies in 2013" which included Audi.
The term "most disruptive" is an accolade, signifying that the company is at the forefront of its industry. Basically, a disruptive company is a business whose innovations force other businesses to alter their strategic direction.
Audi made the list for "pushing autonomous cars closer to fruition with a laser-scanning road detector that fits in a vehicle's front grille.
When one thinks about it, Audi made LED headlight dots fashionable and now every car maker is going that route - hence this is what MIT calls "disruptive".
It was the first car manufacturer to galvanise their entire line of cars for extended rust protection.
Its employment of aluminium space frame technology was a quantum leap in the automobile industry. In 2008 Audi won the European Inventor of the Year Award for its aluminum space frame product, which underpins the Audi A8, TT and R8.
The lightweight platform provides substantial weight savings versus a traditional steel frame, which results in better fuel economy and a reduction in CO2. The space frame also provides improved structural rigidity and improved crash protection.
It also introduced quattro technology back in the eighties. The name quattro is used by Audi to indicate that all-wheel drive (AWD) technology or systems are used on specific models of the Audi automobiles.
It was first introduced in 1980 on the permanent four- wheel drive Audi Quattro. The term quattro has since been applied to all subsequent Audi AWD models.
In the original quattro system the engine and transmission are situated in a longitudinal position. Torque is sent through the transmission to a mechanical centre differential, which apportions the torque between front and rear driven axles.
After 1987 Audi replaced a manual locking centre differential with the Torsen Type 1 centre differential. This allowed engine torque to be automatically directed to individual axles as driving conditions and grip warranted.
Earlier this year Audi celebrated its five-millionth installation of quattro. The driveline has been offered in more than 140 different vehicles since its introduction more than three decades ago.
The quattro technology enjoyed a 43 per cent take rate in 2012. The highest performing quattro systems use torque vectoring to further improve cornering grip and speeds.
It is interesting to note how Mercedes is now putting 4MATIC on AMG cars, like Audi does with its RS cars.
Audi was also the first automaker to use Google Earth and allow its vehicles to support their own Wi-Fi service (current generation A8).
The stylish Q Series
Let's face it; most SUVs are hulking beasts of burden with very little attention paid to elegance and style. The discerning answer to the question tends to be, could this vehicle get you out of the Hindu Kush or the Gobi Desert?
Today we see these behemoths in more urbane terrains, carrying sultans of suburbia but fashion and style are not watchwords here.
Audi prides itself not only on cutting-edge technology but marries it with an epicurean fastidiousness.
Audi's Q Series are SUVs for those who have an affinity with the art of cool. If you are looking for more than pedestrian functionality, if a dash of élan is required then look no further. It therefore comes as no surprise then that US News' Best Cars voted the Audi Q5 as one of the Best Cars for Stylish Families (category- Upscale Compact SUV).
This quality small SUV comes in the base 138 bhp diesel with Four Wheel Drive (FWD). The 2.0-litre diesel uprated to 175 bhp with quattro drive is extremely quiet and a joy to drive. The petrol models come in a 2.0-litre TFSI quattro installation in 168bhp and 208 bhp specifications. The 208 bhp is very brisk. All reviewers of the Q3 remark on the cabin quality and the attention to detail.
The suspension of the Q3 is impressive and it can surprisingly handle medium off-roading rather well. With the Q3 engine being mounted transversely, there is not much difference in space between it and its elder brother, the Q5.
According to the BBC's Top Gear, "Choose the 2.0-litre TDI and you'll benefit from 54.3 mpg and 138g/km of CO2, both better figures than an equivalent BMWX3 (with a 2.0-litre diesel)."
WhatCar? opined: "All engines in the Audi Q3 range provide smooth, strong performance. The ride is comfortable and the handling secure, while the cabin is smartly trimmed and feels like it is built to last. Running costs makes encouraging reading."
Despite the car's relatively small size, there's a 460-litre load bay and split/fold rear seats as standard. The diesel and more powerful engines are available with an updated seven-speed S tronic twin clutch transmission. The Q3 comes in SE or S Line trims. The fuel consumption of this vehicle provides its unique selling point. The base diesel consumes just 5.2 litres per 100km.
The Q5 is recognised as one of the best and most stylish compact SUVs on the market today. If your dining experience goes no further than meat and potatoes, then this vehicle may not be right for you. However, if you favour gourmet cuisine and are au fait with steak tarte and lobster thermidor, the Q5 might be up your alley.
The base Q5 is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Q5 has the handling of a sports sedan but still maintains the requirements of a compact SUV.
Heavily upgraded last year, the Q5 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel is quicker and more fuel-efficient than the BMW X3. The new Q5 has bi-xenon headlights, electric park brake more audio speakers and extra airbags. The 2013 Audi Q5 is ranked by "Best Cars" as the second out of 10 best luxury compact SUVs in the market and gets an overall rating of 8.6. The 2.0-litre petrol does late thirties mpg. For 2013 there are 5 trim levels. Tri-zone climate control, walnut wood trim and leather seating with a reclining feature for rear passengers come as standard. What is impressive here is the voice-controlled Multi Media Interface (MMI) navigation featuring Google Maps, adaptive cruise control and side assist blind spot warning. All engines have an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive.
ATL automotive offers a fantastic Q5 supercharged V6 3.0T 300-horsepower model packed with features. It is an undoubted star in the Q5 series.
This SUV began production in 2005 and in less than a decade has become one of the most popular executive vehicles in the world. This vehicle helped Audi reach one million car sales worldwide.
Despite being the entry-level Q7 variant, the 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel packs a wallop. The engine produces 177kW and 550Nm of torque. It's mated to an eight speed automatic gearbox that is the crux of the Q7's stop/start technology. For a vehicle that weighs a portly 2.3 tonnes, it has a staggering combined fuel use of 7.8L/100 km.
This is a full size, top end vehicle that has become the chariot for the 21st century master of the universe who wants to cruise in comfort. For such a big vehicle it is rather sporty. The V6 option is a refined powerhouse. However, the diesel options gives you 19/28 mpg city/highway. The eight speed automatic transmission is top of its class here and helps make the Q7 a big, poised and polished SUV with impressive driving dynamics. The Q7 has a combination of qualities -off-road ability, interior space, an elevated driving position and the ability to be used as a luxury saloon.