BERLIN -- Audi has put on ice the option of manufacturing in the United States because of the euro's recent slide against the dollar.
The decision against U.S. production means Audi, unlike sister division Volkswagen, isn't ready to design a car primarily for the United States. But Audi of America's plans to double sales by 2018 remain unchanged.
"We don't need a plant in the United States for our plan to produce 1.5 million cars a year in 2015 at the latest," Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said. But nothing has been decided beyond 2015, he said.
Stadler spoke here last week on the sidelines of the presentation of the all-new A1 small car.
Earlier this month, Stadler told Automotive News Europe is on the "right track" with its U.S. plans.
"Just look at how the brand is performing in all the key metrics. We have excellent relations with the dealer body. They are very happy about the high quality and reliability of our cars. They are also happy about the design and the appearance of our cars," he said.
In 2009, Audi's global production fell 10 percent to 924,000.
Said the brand's product development chief, Michael Dick, "U.S. production doesn't pay off at the current dollar exchange rate."
If Audi changes its mind, it could share part of a new plant being built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by its parent, Volkswagen AG. But Audi insiders appear to disagree about how easy that would be.
"If we use the available capacity, we could launch production in the United States in six months," Stadler said. Building a greenfield plant would take three years, he said.
In April, though, Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen told Automotive News that the brand could not easily build an Audi model on the VW assembly line.
"We can't share the line," he said. "Volkswagen needs the volume for itself, and Audi and VW no longer share the same vehicle architecture." Audi mounts engines longitudinally and VW transversely.
De Nysschen said VW designed the Chattanooga plant for a mirror-image expansion, "and we could share the paint shop."
Carmakers typically use local production -- such as BMW AG's plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Daimler AG's plant in Vance, Alabama -- as a hedge against currency swings. At the height of the dollar's weakness in 2008, analysts estimated that Daimler, BMW and VW were being hit by a combined $1.5 billion annually in currency losses because of their heavy reliance on exports from Germany.