Audi has launched quite a lot of new models in the last few months, including the all new A7 Sportback, the 2011 A8 flagship limousine or the RS5 high performance coupe. Among them though, the most important one in terms of future growth was the diminutive A1 city car.
The model was formally revealed at the beginning of the year, and is heading to European dealerships as we speak. But while Audi was a bit reluctant at first, and limited production at its Belgian plant, things are looking extremely good.
According to recent statements, pre-orders for the compact hatchback are through the roof, and the plant is already cranking out A1 cars as fast as it can. Recent marketing campaigns, including a series of short films starring pop singer Justin Timberlake, have also increased awareness beyond the borders of Europe, where the A1 was set to be sold.
Now, according to the Audi sales chief, Peter Schwarzenbauer, the German automaker is preparing the A1 for its global debut, and wants to focus on markets in Asia. In order to achieve that, production has already been boosted, in order to cope with demand.
“Many of the Asian markets are now showing a trend toward smaller vehicles,” the executive said. “For that reason, it’s right to sell the A1 also in those regions.”
Schwarzenbauer revealed that the company is still planning out the exact launch strategy that the A1 will have in the Asian markets. According to him, the A1 might be produced locally, at a Volkswagen plant, as to not strain the European plant. Still, he is confident that given the thriving markets, the A1 will constitute a great entry point for customers new to the Audi brand, and who can’t afford an A3 hatchback or an A4 sedan.
Audi will also focus on the Chinese market, currently experiencing one of the largest growths in the world. The A1 will be thoroughly prepared for its debut, but given the volume of cars needed to supply dealerships across the country, its launch might be scheduled for 2012.
Sadly though, the US market isn’t on top of Audi’s priorities, given the fact that customers are still highly reluctant of compact city cars, not to mention premium ones. The low sales of the A3 hatchback, even with its clean diesel program, are further testimony that the current A1 won’t make an impact on the market.
Schwarzenbauer is confident though that the US customers will change their mind over time. As such, he doesn’t rule out the possibility of launching the second generation A1 on North American shores. Still, seeing as how the current generation is barely reaching the European market, Americans are going to have to wait a very long time.
Luckily though, Audi has some specific plans for the USA, which include a custom sedan version of the A3 hatchback. This will further help customers that want a cheaper model, as well as those completely knew to the German luxury carmaker.
No word yet on this project though, as Audi execs are keeping a tight lid on it until the time is right for an official announcement.