Audi plans to introduce its latest crossover -- the entry-level Q3 -- at the Shanghai auto show later this month and launch the car in Europe in October.
The Q3, based on the same architecture as the Volkswagen Tiguan, will join the Q5 and Q7 in Audi's crossover lineup. It will be built in Spain and compete against the BMW X1. The Q3's U.S. debut has not been announced.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi's board member for sales and marketing, told Automotive News Europe sister publication Automotive News earlier this year that the Q3, if approved, would not go on sale in the U.S. market for 12 to 15 months after sales start in Europe.
U.S. sales of the Q5 and Q7 remain strong, and Audi says it is reluctant to introduce the Q3 too soon and possibly undercut demand for the more profitable crossovers. It says it is expanding its lineup in hopes of becoming the world's leading premium auto brand.
Robust luxury vehicle demand in the United States, Europe, Russia and China are prompting Audi and other luxury brands to expand model offerings.
After launching larger SUVs, they are now adding smaller crossovers to meet more stringent fuel economy rules and changing consumer tastes.
Audi's first-quarter global sales climbed to 312,600 units, up 18 percent compared with the year-earlier period.
During the first quarter, BMW remained the world's best-selling premium brand, but Audi overtook Mercedes-Benz in terms of sales volume during the first quarter. Mercedes' first-quarter sales rose 13 percent to 280,552 units.
Audi's sales growth has been aided by its large and leading position in the booming China market and the introduction of new models such as the A1 subcompact in Europe. The brand expects the redesigned A6 and new Q3 to deliver additional sales growth over the next year.
Audi hopes to sell 114,000 vehicles in the United States this year, up from 101,629 in 2010. It says the sales increase will be driven by demand for the new A8 flagship sedan launched late last year, the all-new A7 coupe and the redesigned A6 due later this year.
Audi expects U.S. sales to reach 130,000 to 140,000 by mid-decade.