Audi Nails Record Quarter as European Sales Pick Up Steam

Audi A8

Volkswagen AG’s (VLKAY.PK) core brand may be having its struggles here in the U.S., but fortunately, the German automaker’s Audi luxury arm has been outperforming. In a report released on Monday, Ingolstadt-based Audi said it delivered 400,000 vehicles worldwide during the first quarter, an 11.7  percent spike over the same period last year.

Sales chief Luca de Meo said that growth in Europe, which has been a sore spot for automakers for the past six or so years, actually outpaced overall market growth for the period. “In March we achieved a double best figure, completing the most successful first quarter in our company history with the strongest sales month ever,”
de Meo said in a press release. “With new models like the A3 Sedan, the internationalization of our business is gaining momentum. In the first quarter we achieved substantial growth in all regions around the world and grew more strongly than the market in Europe.”

March was a very strong month, as Audi moved 170,450 cars, up 15.4 percent against March 2013. Convertible models played a surprisingly large role in the gain, as the the A5 Cabriolet saw sales grow 8.3 percent and the TT Roadster tacked on 22.6 percent, even ahead of its upcoming redesign.

The A3 family — the new generation of which went on sale in the United States — saw gains of 52.5 percent to around 28,750 cars last month, Audi said. The Q7 SUV made a substantial 39 percent leap in sales, and the A8 grew an impressive 49 percent to achieve the strongest growth among the brand’s full-size models.

Audi A3

Germany and the United Kingdom drove Audi’s European growth with gains of 10.2 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively. Overall, the region saw sales pick up 7.2 percent versus the year-ago March; for the quarter, Audi’s European operations are up 6.8 percent.

Audi’s American sales saw similar gains, as the company bolstered U.S. sales by 7.5 percent to 14,246 during March, and 3 percent and 35,228 for the first quarter. There was particular strength seen in the Q7 SUV, which moved 45.8 percent more units in March than the same month a year ago.

Audi has been on a growth trend since the recession, and the brand is hoping to keep the momentum rolling with 17 new models to be released this year. In the States, that will include the Q3 compact crossover, and the newly released A3 is expected to generate significant sales for the company.