Auto Industry

German lesson

Audi sells millionth car in China, setting record

German lesson

Vorsprung durch technik with Chinese characteristics

The latest piece of contemporary art to cause a stir in China is a giant rocket sculpture topped off with a German vehicle. Calcutta-born but British resident sculptor Gerry Juddah’s latest work was unveiled last week. Named Ode to Audi, it features one of the carmaker’s A6Ls.

The occasion for commissioning the work? A celebration: on October 20 Audi sold its millionth car in China, setting a sales record for vehicles in the premium category.

“Audi considers China its second home,” says the firm’s chairman, Rupert Stadler, and judging by the number of government officials cruising around in its vehicles, Beijing policymakers probably agree.

Indeed, when you cast around for examples of foreign firms with China success stories, Audi arguably tops the list. It has been in China since 1988 and has managed to both forge and amicably maintain a fruitful joint venture with local car maker FAW. As FAW’s group president, Xu Jianyi told China Daily: “During the 22 years of Audi production in China, the Chinese and Germans treated each other with understanding and frankness, making Audi the number one brand in the premium car market.”

FAW VW Audi was an early advocate of localising production. The first Chinese made Audi rolled off the Changchun assembly line in 1989. By 1999 a version of the A6 was being made specifically for the China market, with a longer wheelbase to cater to Chinese consumer appetites. The company now sources 60% of each car locally, from a network of 200 parts suppliers. And it now sells throughout the country via dealerships spanning 96 cities.

Audi – whose name means ‘listen’ in Latin – was founded in Cologne in 1910. But, looking ahead, the company evidently sees an ever bigger part of its future in China.

At the recent celebration, Stadler and Xu announced that while it had taken 22 years to sell a million Audis, they reckoned they could sell the same number again in just three years, reports the China Daily.

Keeping Track: Back in WiC83 we reported that German carmaker Volkswagen had sold its millionth Audi in China. But Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler was confident of much more to come. “It took us 23 years to sell our first million vehicles in

China,” Stadler said. “We aim to deliver our second million to customers in just three years.” It still looks like an ambitious goal, although the company has just posted a record quarter, with 51,951 cars sold. Sales rose 18.2%. According to research firm Dunne & Co, the A6 continues to lead the way, still the transport option of choice for the discerning government official or company boss. Half of the A6s sold globally are now sold in China. (29 Apr, 2011)

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