HERNDON, Va. -- Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen says the United States and its small-equals-cheap mentality isnt ready for premium subcompacts such as the Audi A1, which goes on sale in Europe in 2010.
In an interview here with Automotive News Monday, de Nysschen said Audi is seriously looking at bringing the A1 to the United States in the cars next generation six to eight years from now. Bringing it here earlier could damage Audis efforts to build widespread recognition for the brand, he said.
People who know us consider us very highly, but not enough people know us yet, de Nysschen said in the interview at Audis U.S. headquarters. Id like to get that entrenched much more strongly, and it will probably take us another five to six years. That will be the time that you can kind of roll down the market with a smaller car.
De Nysschen said Audis U.S. dealers asked for the A1, until they found out what it would cost. European pricing hasnt been set, but the car likely will have a price tag of about 20,000 euros or $25,541 at current exchange rates.
They said: This is impossible. You cannot charge this much for small cars, de Nysschen said of the dealers reaction. In their mind, they were thinking $18,000, because thats the conditioning our society still has.
The A1 is about 10 inches shorter than the A3, Audis smallest U.S. model. In Europe, the A1 will compete against BMWs 1 series and Mini models. Both are sold in the United States.