Led By New A3, Entry-Level Autos Are Carrying The Load For Audi USA
March was the highest-volume U.S. sales month in the Audi A3’s decade-long history. Never before had the A3 topped the 3000-unit mark, but March volume climbed to 3081 sales, equal to 18% of Audi USA’s volume last month.
Year-over-year comparisons for the A3 are all but completely invalid, as a hiatus between the departure of the A3 hatchback and the current A3 sedan resulted in a three-month-long sales-free period between November 2013 and January 2014. That period was followed by only 863 sales during the new A3’s first two months of February and March 2014.
2015’s first-quarter was, however, the best quarter yet for the new A3 despite the fact that January-March is the slowest period of the year for auto sales in the United States.
Audi sold 7743 A3 sedans and cabriolets (S3-inclusive) over the last three months, a 2% gain compared with the final three months of 2014, a 12% improvement over 2014 Q3, and a 13% jump compared to the April-June launch period of last year.
Healthy A3 volume has been tremendously important for Audi USA, which last month reported the brand’s second-best-ever monthly sales total, the best March ever, and the 51st consecutive monthly sales record.
Audi wouldn’t have come close to doing so without such strong entry-level volume, as the aging A4 and A5 fell 32% and 15%, respectively. The A7 was down 30%. A8, R8, TT, and Q7 sales slipped, as well. Excluding the A3 and Q3 crossover, Audi sales were actually down 9%.
But with the A3’s 3081 sales, the Q3’s 1268-unit tally, and the best-selling Q5’s 17% jump, Audi brand sales shot up 20% as the overall U.S. auto industry barely moved the needle forward. New vehicle volume was up just 0.5% in March. Audi’s 14% improvement through the first-quarter is far in excess of the industry’s 6% increase.
The A3 trails Mercedes-Benz’s CLA by 483 units heading into April. Lexus’s hybrid-only CT200h is down 15% to 3399 units in 2015, less than half the A3’s total. Acura is just now launching the 2016 ILX with a more powerful standard engine: ILX sales are down 15% to a CT-besting 3505 year-to-date. The Buick Verano, which straddles the mainstream and entry-level premium categories, is down 17% to 9079 sales so far this year, just 853 sales ahead of the Mercedes-Benz CLA. The CLA’s base price is 35% higher than the Verano’s.
Meanwhile, across the pond, the Audi A3 is the eighth-best-selling vehicle in the United Kingdom so far this year. A3 sales totalled 14,358 in the UK in 2015’s first-quarter, nearly double Audi USA’s total in a market that’s less than one-fifth the size.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.
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Entry level sales also carrying the load for Lexus. CT, NX, IS, RC, ES and RX. At the upper end of the luxury market - it's really just MB and BMW (not counting more niche players like Porsche or Tesla).
"nearly double Audi USA’s total in a market that’s less than one-fifth the size." They probably get at least 5 body styles, 3 engines and 2 choices of transmission. The sole A3 model in this country is basically Audi's drip tray for catching anyone they can't coax into a more expensive vehicle.