Volkswagen AG'S Audi luxury brand has no plans to develop a version of the forthcoming VW Up minicar, but may build a new entry-level SUV, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said.
Media reports have speculated that Audi would is developing its own variant of the Up under the code-name "Audi AO." However, Stadler told Automotive News Europe: "I cannot imagine that we will have a new model below our current A1 entry-level car."
VW Skoda unit plans to develop a version of the Up city car.
Stadler said he sees potential for a small SUV below the Q5 and the new Q3, which launches later this year. "The Q family certainly still has potential. It is not yet complete," he said.
Stadler said the company had not yet reached a decision on whether to launch a car that could be named Q1. Currently, Audi has 37 model variants, with plans to extend the number to 42 by 2015 as part of its ambitious goal of overtaking BMW AG as the world's biggest luxury car maker.
Stadler is optimistic about demand for the A1, which launched last year. "It looks like we will use the full 120,000-unit capacity at our Brussels factory this year," he said. That will happen even though Audi currently only sells a two-door version of the A1, Stadler said.
Audi will not sell the A1 in the United States. "We just don't have the capacity to introduce the A1 in the U.S. even though our dealers there are enthusiastic about the car. We prefer to exploit the full market potential for the cars we currently sell in the U.S. before launching new models."
Currently, Audi is experiencing difficulty keeping up with demand for its cars in the U.S. and other markets because of a shortage of components from suppliers who were hit by the economic crisis in 2009.
Partsmakers who reduced staffing levels and cut production need to rebuild capacity and it will be six to nine months before the situation is back to normal, Stadler predicted.