Audi A1 sportback conceptEnlarge Photo
Back in June, you might recall that Audi announced plans to roll its new A1 citycar into dealerships by early 2010. The automaker said that the A1 would debut as a three-door model, but that a five-door sportback version would soon follow. At the time, the A1 was slated only for European release.
However, there's a lot of auto news flowing from Germany right now, and among the items crossing our desk is a bit from German magazine Handelsblatt, which reports that Audi's head of sales, Peter Schwarzbauer, does, in fact, want to bring the A1 to America. In the article, Schwarzbauer refers to the "second generation" of the A1 when discussing the model's U.S. release, which could mean the five-door sportback variant.
Schwarzbauer goes on to say that the American rollout of the A1 would be key in helping Audi meet its goal of surpassing BMW and Mercedes-Benz in worldwide sales by the year 2015. That'll be no small feat: according to recent sales figures, BMW has sold nearly 130,000 vehicles to date in 2009, and Mercedes-Benz has sold just under 119,000. Audi, on the other hand, is just above the 52,000 mark for the year, which isn't too far below last year's total of 58,000. In terms of U.S. market share, Mercedes-Benz polls at about 1.7%, Volkswagen is holding steady around 2%, and Audi is at .7%. Mr. Schwarzbauer has his work cut out for him -- at least on this side of the pond.
Audi's goals are made even more lofty by the format of the A1, which falls pretty squarely in the minicar segment in both its three-door and five-door versions. The minicar market isn't an especially strong one in the U.S. -- though with new rollouts from Fiat, Scion, and other European and Asian manufacturers, Americans perception of minicars may change. So who knows? Audi may be able to ride that wave to victory.
On the other hand, this could simply be another case of German overreaching -- like Audi's big brother Porsche succumbed to not so long ago....