Audi is aggressively expanding its lineup in China to exploit growing demand among newly prosperous young Chinese for crossovers and compact luxury vehicles.
Despite a recent slowdown of industry sales in China -- and tough price competition in the luxury segment -- Audi's global sales chief, Peter Schwarzenbauer, says he is sticking with his plan to double production capacity in China to 700,000 units by 2015.
To sell all those vehicles, he also plans to expand Audi's dealer network from 237 stores in 2011 to 300 by year end and to 400 in 2013. About half of those new stores will be in Tier 1 cities along the coast. The rest will be in newly prosperous inland cities.
"In China, there are 300 cities with more than a million residents and we are present in only 187 cities," Schwarzenbauer says. "So we are still scratching the surface."
By 2015, Schwarzenbauer expects China to overtake the United States as the world's largest premium market. Audi is China's largest luxury brand on the strength of its long-wheelbase A4 and A6 models.