INGOLSTADT - Audi claims strong demand for its new A6.
'We have received more orders than expected,' said Audi spokesman Norbert Essing. He would not give figures. Audi had set a 1997 sales target of 60,000 A6s. Production capacity at the Neckarsulm factory is 130,000 cars a year.
A six-week European introduction of the A6 began 9 May in Germany. This is the fastest roll-out in Audi's history.
The A6 competes with the BMW 5 series and Mercedes E class. It is the last of Audi's models to be radically rebuilt. Audi introduced its new A8 in 1994, then the new A4 and A3.
The new A6 will make Audi less dependent on the A4, said Franz-Josef Paefgen, who takes over as chairman of Audi's management board on 1 July. The A6 is 'a decisive step to take the brand further upmarket,' he said.
Paefgen said the A6 is DM2,000-DM5,000 cheaper than its predecessor with the same features. The A6 sells for DM52,800-DM71,900 in Germany.
The engine options are: a 1.8-liter, 150ps, four-cylinder turbo: a 2.4-liter, 165ps V-6; a 2.8-liter, 193ps V-6; and a 1.9-liter, 110ps, four-cylinder turbodiesel. In the autumn Audi will add another engine option: a 2.5-liter, 150ps, V-6 turbodiesel.
Audi is also pushing its dealerships and marketing upmarket. Ingolstadt dealer Karl Brod has opened the first Audi Center.
The DM4.5 million building looks like an airport hangar. It was designed by an Audi corporate identity team. The Ingolstadt center is the first of many big-city Audi Centers. Volkswagen Group decided in 1995 to separate Audi and Volkswagen brand dealers.