By on April 15, 2015

Audi A3/A4 sales chart USAMarch 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.

2015 Audi A3Audi 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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22 Comments on “Led By New A3, Entry-Level Autos Are Carrying The Load For Audi USA...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    If it’s this or CLA, I’m going A3 all day long. It looks 100% better than that hot mess CLA. And I think it’s nicer than the ILX, and obviously has a better badge. I wouldn’t shop the CT200 as it’s kind of a joke, and only a hybrid anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      The CLA’s sales success proves the power of the tripoint star. I’ve driven the CLA250 a few times and while it’s not a bad car, it’s definitely nothing I’d be interested in owning, especially with the transmission and poor ride quality.

      The A3 really hits all the right marks (minus the missing third pedal…ahem) and surprisingly enough, at reasonable prices, too.

      Q3 on the other hand….still riding on a nearly 15 year old platform and not due for a move to MQB for another 2-3 years. Too cramped, too underpowered, too noisy for my tastes.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        And yet the Q3 is sold out or almost sold out, with no launch and next to no advertising.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          Jimal –

          Yeah, they’re hitting their intended audience perfectly. The second part of that equation is allocation: the factory that builds the Q3 is maxed out so the US is only getting a small proportion of the units they’ve asked for.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        The A3 is really that “right-sized” car for most people who don’t use the back seats a whole lot. It is nearly identical in dimensions to the B5 A4, which was the car that really made Audi relevant in the modern luxury game. I had a B5 A4 in the past and if I could get an A3 Quattro with a manual it would definitely be a consideration to put me back in a VAG product in the future.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          Agreed. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve transported people in my backseat over the last ten years. That said, my backseat is the purview of two large retrievers, so…..

          +1 to the manual transmission. A new A3 2.0T would probably be in my driveway by now if that were the case. *sigh*

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Each size segment continues to grow – the new C Class is the size of an E Class from a couple of generations ago.

          The A3 is just about the perfect size for newly minted (single) professionals – where it’s pretty much them for about 90-95% of the time and the rest to carry friends or colleagues in a pinch for shorter rides.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      “If it’s this or CLA, I’m going A3 all day long.”

      I would agree. The A3 is a vastly superior to the CLA in nearly every way but I still can’t come to terms with its FWD proportions. Particularly in 1.8 guise, the car just screams “junior burger luxury”.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Tim, you mention the UK sales figures. Do you plan on adding UK figures to your site?

  • avatar
    hreardon

    A6 and A7 in Q1 were hampered by the changeover to the 2016 facelift models; there was a lack of inventory for about a month. One of the larger Audi dealers in town with whom I am friends told me that they sold through their entire shipment of new 2016 A6 and A7s once they hit, so I imagine we’ll see a pickup.

    I think Audi will get pretty well clobbered on A4 and Q5 sales for the next 12 months with the ramp of the new models later this year (September in Europe, probably Q2/Q3 2016 in the US).

    Audi will be adding the A3 Sportback TDI later this year which should add volume, plus the A3 e-tron should, in limited numbers, help the figure a wee bit.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Audi must be one of the few car companies who sell more sedans than SUVs

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    I like the A3 very much, but on occasion, that C-pillar, roof line, and side crease exude a faint whiff of old Chrysler 200.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I can’t help but wonder if success of the A3 and CLA are coming largely from cannibalizing sales of the larger and likely more profitable larger models in their respective brand offerings. The A3 in particular seems to be such a good car it does not really make any sense to stretch the budget to get the now elderly A4. Reminds me of the 1960 Ford Falcon that mostly took sales away from the full-size Fords, while the competing Corvair took sales away from imports and not the full-size Chevy, but was considered less successful because it did not sell as well as the Falcon.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      While cannibalization is indeed possible, the feedback I’m hearing from both dealers and buyers alike is that they’ve purchased the A3 on its own merits, not because it was a (very slightly) less expensive A4.

      While dimensionally the two cars aren’t that different (backseat headroom the exception), the A4 feels very different from behind the wheel. I can see how both cars would appeal to their own demographics without too much overlap.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      ‘More profitable’ is a weird concept when you realize that an overwhelming number of these cars (both the A3/A4 and CLA/C) are leased. $50 a month difference over 3 years is negligible if you are significantly increasing your brand-captive audience.

      I think the CLA is a bit unfairly tarred in the automotive world, but anyone willing to spend that much on that little value of a car just for the brand certainly isn’t going to be cross-shopping a Focus when the note is up. They’re going to drive the ‘old’ one into the dealer and drive away in a ‘new’ one that ‘s even cheaper to make, and the dealer is going to CPO the thing to some poor schmuck who can’t qualify for give-it-away leasing (and who will be saddled with the insane repair bills.)

      I think that’s the most interesting part of the CLA story – what the hell are these cars going to look like and cost to repair when they’re 48 mos old? Just because you didn’t pay E-class prices to get the badge doesn’t mean that you get to skip E-class shop costs.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        ello –

        Ehhh, I think the press has been *too light* on the CLA. I found the ride to be very harsh and the transmission to be exceptionally jerky. The interior, however, was really the biggest letdown. It’s not *bad* per se, but if you compare the interior appointments of the CLA to the A3 there’s absolutely no comparison – the A3 interior has the fit, finish and material quality feel of an A6 whereas the CLA feels like a Chevy.

        As for the service aspect of things – as always with German cars, that’s a great question. The good news for the majority of A3 and CLA buyers? They won’t care after the 36 month lease ends. That said, my dealership friend tells me that 75% of A3s they’re moving are purchases, not leases. Your mileage may vary.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Not according to sales of the new C Class (and that’s even with a higher pricepoint).

      Maybe for the A4 for the time being as it is really long in the tooth.

      And the CLA is not unfairly tarred – there are numerous mainstream branded hatches that drive and ride better than the CLA and MB seems to have skipped the CLA when it came to upgrading their interiors.

  • avatar
    bd2

    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).

  • avatar

    “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.


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