Audi aims to unseat BMW as top luxury maker

Aggressive plan calls for increased investment in production and technology

Published: December 28, 2014, 10:35 AM
Updated: November 23, 2021, 11:54 AM

Audi Prologue concept

Once upon a time, BMW and Mercedes-Benz were duelling it out for top spot in the luxury car market but over the past decade, Audi has been making steady progress trying to unseat its German compatriots and is now readying its final push to the top of the hill.

The Ingolstadt-based company knows for its all-wheel drive architecture has already taken second place away from Mercedes, and is now reportedly planning to invest some 24 billion Euros (about $34 billion Canadian) to expand production and develop new technology. Over two thirds of that total is earmarked for new models, which the company says will go toward expanding its stable to 60 models by the 2020 model year. Among the new offerings is a Q1 mini-compact crossover to challenge BMW’s X1.

On the technology front, Audi is looking to invest in electric mobility (it plans to market an electric crossover within a couple years), connectivity and lightweight construction, said CEO Rupert Stadler in a statement.

It expects to sell a record 1.7 million vehicles in 2014, which should allow it to close the gap on BMW for the year. An Automotive News report said the company sold just 42,600 fewer vehicles over the first 11 months of the year (compared to 54,600 over the same period the previous year).

Audi already outsells BMW in Europe and China, but has to conquer over U.S. buyers. A new more aggressive look for its cars — shown at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show in the guise of the Prologue concept — will go a long way toward achieving that goal, as will expansion of its Mexico plant to build the Q5 compact utility for the North American market.

Audi’s lofty ambition is part of its parent’s even loftier goal — Volkswagen wants to beat Toyota as the global sales leader