Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler Looks To ‘Conquer New Customers’ With Downsized Models

Audi has posted impressive growth figures under the leadership of chairman Rupert Stadler, who came into power in 2007. The automaker moved 920,846 cars the year he became effective in the role, a figure it has managed to nearly double in the seven years since.

Speaking to Autocar, Stadler revealed Audi’s ambitious goal to sell two million cars annually by the year 2020. The brand sees adding models to its lineup as a crucial aspect of its growth plan. Audi currently sells 50 distinct models across 12 different model ranges, but it hopes to sell 60 different models by 2020.

Included in those 10 additional models is the upcoming Q1 compact SUV. Stadler says the Q1, set to be introduced in mid-2016, “will bring (Audi) volume growth,” adding the A1 compact “has been really successful at this also.” He also sees “room for more sporty models” and “more Q models.”

A criticism of the downsized models Audi is now pushing, like the A1, for example, is that they don’t fall in line with what a premium automaker should be. Stadler disagrees, claiming Audi squashed those perceptions with the A3 and will continue to do so with its future compact cars.

“A premium car used to be big, and we changed that with the A3,” Stadler told Autocar. “All competitors followed. We conquered again with the A1 and did it in the right way. When the customer opens the door of an A1, it has the Audi look and feel. Premium is not a question of size. It is a question of appearance, and now it is also one of connectivity.”

Stadler boasts the A1 was the first compact car with Wi-Fi connectivity, and hopes to spread the technology across its entire lineup. He also hopes to further solidify Audi as a technology leader by bringing the Audi TT’s ‘Virtual Cockpit‘ dash display to other models and making autonomous driving technologies more widely available.

With a recent €22 billion ($25 billion USD) investment from parent company Volkswagen, Audi stands a strong chance at stealing customers from rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz over the course of the next five years. And considering Stadler’s history with Audi, we wouldn’t bet against him.

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