Audi's 2020 vision is to be the best

The prestige car maker is determined to knock off its German rivals this decade.

Have you heard the one about the Aussie who just got home from Ireland and immediately vowed to pick a fight with a pair of feisty Germans?

The punchline - if you can call it that - is that he speaks on behalf of another brawny Deutschlander, setting up a German civil war of sorts that will be waged here on Australian roads.

Andrew Doyle, the incoming managing director of Audi Australia, says he's determined to use the experience gained in charge of the company's Irish operation - where Audi enjoyed handsome market leadership - to relegate rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz to the rear-view mirror by the time the next decade rolls around.

The Audi "Strategy 2020" document calls not just for Australian premium market leadership by 2020, but also to become the prestige leader worldwide.

Double-digit growth in the local market from 2007 to 2011 - curtailed by a "consolidation" year last year in which it just broke even - has certainly forced BMW and Benz to pay more attention to the "third" German. But can Audi recapture its previous momentum and forge ahead in the space of seven years?

Last year Mercedes-Benz was the clear market leader in Australia with 22,397 sales, ahead of BMW's 18,413 and Audi's 14,535. Audi is quick to point out that while its sales comprised just 35 per cent of BMW's volume in 2005, it improved to 87 per cent last year.

"We won't catch our competition by 2013, maybe not even by 2015, but we will be close. We have certainly caught (up to) our competitors year on year," Doyle says.

Audi Australia previously set a goal to sell 15,000 cars in a year by 2015, and with more than 4000 sold in the first quarter of this year it forecasts it will achieve the feat two years ahead of schedule.

Already in the first quarter of this year Audi has logged an impressive 18 per cent growth in sales. But that is dwarfed by Mercedes-Benz, which is riding a 44 per cent jump on the back of a huge marketing push for its new A-Class hatchback.


Doyle says that while topping the sales charts remains the brand's top focus, achieving top results in other measures such as product quality and customer satisfaction was also vital.

"We're a brand that's around for the long term so we want to grow with a solid and stable platform," he says.

"It would be great to be the number one volume brand but if it doesn't come with volume, at some point in time you have to balance the volume and the quality we're offering as well, so for us it's a combination.

"That's a goal we have set globally and also here in Australia so we have to work towards it."

Doyle says he will leverage the experience of overseeing two years of market leadership in Ireland to attempt to lead Audi Australia toward a similar perch.

"It was a nice view from the front, I must say, I enjoyed it a lot. But it wasn't any easier than it is to be challenging for number one.

"It has taught me a lot of things and it certainly is our goal in the near to medium future to be the number one premium brand in Australia."