Thursday, December 12, 2019
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Audi plans to go big on the fleet market

Dubai: Audi’s Middle East operations achieved what it wanted from 2013 — go past the 10,000 units mark. But go slightly deeper into the tally and you realise that just one model — the Q7 — drove up the numbers by more than 2,000 units. And if you added the other in the carmaker’s crossover range, the Q5 and Q3, their share would swell past the 40 per cent mark.

That’s all well from a profitability perspective given the margins a Q7 can command, but what does it mean for the Audi sedans? Aren’t they still trying to play catch-up with the Q’s? (By the way, an all-new Q model, the Q1, is due in 2016.)

“We are looking at the 2013 numbers from a different perspective — with the Q7 you have a model that still retains a tremendous following a full seven years since the introduction and with a new version still a year and more away from availability,” said Trevor Hill, regional head at Audi. “Having said that, we plan to do more on the sedan side this year and one way to do it is make our models more popular with fleet buyers.

“We will be introducing — and that too shortly — an offer designed specifically for the fleet market.”

Plus, there will be a model — the A3 sedan — that could help the marque get a move on in fleet sales, which currently make up just under 20 per cent of the overall. “The A3 hatchback has been available for some time but it’s with the sedan that we see creating opportunities with fleet buyers seeking upscale models,” said Hill. The A3 sedan, with a price tag of Dh100,000 plus, is to arrive in regional showrooms in the next couple of weeks.

The last two years have been robust ones for fleet sales in these markets, riding on improved business sentiments and consistently high demand from the hospitality sector. Audi’s flagship A8 has in the recent past picked up major wins with hotel groups in Qatar. Market sources suggest that fleet buys could be growing at a faster clip over retail this year and the next, again with the UAE and Qatar leading the way.

Getting more from fleet is also crucial for Audi’s stretch targets — 20,000 units by 2020.