By on September 12, 2019

Image: Audi

You might not have noticed but Audi has been quietly reducing the complexity of its lineup by eliminating certain content combinations, often in select markets. Here, the biggest change was the elimination of the manual gearbox for 2019. But Audi said it needed to be done due to there being an abysmally low take rate for besticked vehicles in North America.

Apparently, the automaker is just getting warmed up on tamping down the configurations. In an recent chat with Autocar, Audi CEO Bram Schot said there was plenty more work to be done. Having already reduced the number of model variants in certain regions by 27 percent, compared to last year’s options, the CEO said the manufacturer still wasn’t where it wanted to be. 

“27 [percent] is not the end, the end will be 40 or 45 [percent]. We think it’s the new premium, it’s simplified premium,” Schot said. “It is not easy because at a global perspective, a take rate of 1 or 2 [percent] sounds like an easy decision but in a specific country that could be 70 [percent] of your sales. It’s very hard decision-making. We’ve done it, and we’re down 27 [percent] so that’s huge.”

From Autocar:

Further culls could also include model lines. Schot commented: “It’s not only models but variations — do we want to have a normal saloon and a sportback? We’re discussing this currently for a specific model.”

Schot said he wants to have 30 [percent] less model lines. However, he added Audi wanted to grow in higher segments with models such as the A6, A7, Q7 and Q8. At the same time, they want to attract younger customers which requires the need for more affordable, small cars.

The CEO seemed to view the business as a bit of a balancing act. Audi believes that more-youthful shoppers aren’t going to want the same things older customers desire. Unfortunately most people under 35 are broke or at least have less spending money than older generations. Blame the times, boomer greed, millennial laziness, automation, whatever — but that’s the reality and it’s something premium automakers have to contend with.

“We want to get more penetration in high-end segment, but at the same time we want to increase young customers which you do not find in that segment,” Schot explained. “If you take an average customer over 50 years old, they have a completely different requirement set to connectivity and digitalisation than a 25 year old. But the cars where you can afford that most is the cars bought by those over 50.”


[Image: Audi]

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7 Comments on “Audi Will Continue Pruning Its Product Portfolio...”

  • avatar

    Even without manual transmissions and without station wagons, I’m really surprised at the number of different model variations offered by Audi, as well as by BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Having so many different configurations can’t possibly be all that efficient.

  • avatar

    I left the Audi fold because they culled the A3 wagon and manual. This is not the way to win me back. It wouldn’t take much to get me back as I settled for the larger and slower TSX wagon with an old fashion automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      My 2016 A5 will likely be my last Audi because, well, no more clutch pedals. My next car will probably be a BMW M car, if they are still offering manuals by the time I’m ready to buy again.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Skoda and Volkswagen are the brands for the younger buyers, not Audi. Why can’t they see this?

    • 0 avatar

      Well, Skoda’s not sold here, and VW has gone full CUV mommy-mobile crazy, so is it really chasing younger buyers anymore?

      My guess is that this signals something smaller / more “urban” (read: CUV) than the A3 coming our way. Something like this, I imagine…

      There’s also a Q3 “sportback” (basically a fastback Q3) on it’s way that I bet finds its’ way here.

  • avatar

    “boomer greed”

    What a misguided stereotype! Boomers never were greedy. Just opposite – they were living in communes, despised money, capitalism and establishment. Boomers were flower children and boomers were against machines, war and corporations.

    Regarding Audi – in Europe model line normally includes (or did when I lived there) sedan, hatchback, coupe and wagon. Manual AND auto transmission. Plus wide variety of engines. E.g. engine line 1.3L. 1.6L, 2.0L, 2.2L and that’s only gas engines – add there diesels. Europeans expect greater choice and more options than Americans who are happy with Camry sedan only, AT only and with two gas engine choices.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree about the boomers. Those who came afterwards and weren’t there of course feel free to make up any horse manure they like and blame all their travails on someone else. Makes a person feel better if there’s a scapegoat, whether the reason is true or not. I have a acquaintance born in 1972 who believes he’s virtually a pop music and social historian. He attempts to lecture me on the 1960s music scene and he wasn’t even there, hasn’t got a clue. It’s all mental fabrication – sure he’s memorized details of songs/writers, bands etc. etc. but seems to think his abstract mental construction is the truth. Utter bull, when he starts going on about it, I leave. He’s like an internet troll but in the flesh.

      I never could understand those huge number of engine choices in Europe. Why anyone could come up with a reason to offer say a 1.3 and a 1.6 and a 1.8 and a 2.0 is beyond me. The resultant performance and economy differences between any two engines next to each other in displacement is a distinction without a difference of any note, but in my forays into British web sites, there is consternation that I should even suggest such a thing, that’s just the way things are and nobody seems to have the imagination to even consider what I’m saying. Stuck in a mould. It’s like having candy bars in 1.5 oz. 1.75 ounce, 2.0 oz, and 2.25 ounces. A waste of stockage space for the retailer and higher costs of production for the manufacturer. In other words, dumb.

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