While many are concerned that the growing number of new cars hitting the road in already crowded cities like Beijing are unsustainable, car sales in the world's largest auto market continue to chug ahead, buoying foreign brands that have been hit hard in the past two years in their home markets.
Although observers note that new car sales in China started to gradually taper off this year as government incentives were scaled back and prices for consumer goods rose, for some automakers -- particularly those from Germany -- 2010 has been a good year.
Few German automakers have benefitted as much this year as Audi, one of the first premium European brands to really dig in its heels in the China market. As Jing Daily pointed out in March, analysts projected that 2010 would mark the first year that Audi would sell more vehicles in China than in its home country, with estimates that 200,000 Audis would find new homes there over the course of the year. Considering Audi sold 150,000 vehicles in China in 2009 -- the year of the government subsidy -- this target is harder to hit than some might think.
Apparently, though, Audi's doing something right this year, because the company announced this week that its China sales remain on target to eclipse Germany. From Reuters:
Audi sales jumped almost 68 percent to 22,358 units in August in China, the premium brand of Volkswagen said on Friday.
This brings the total in the past eight months to 152,782 vehicles for a cumulative year-to-date gain of 63 percent.
Data provided by the German motor vehicles department on Thursday showed registrations of new Audi vehicles in Germany amounted to 144,365 units through August.
So what has Audi done correctly in its quest to stay ahead of its rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW? Along with keeping up with the Joneses and introducing China-only elongated models, Audi changed tack this year and began to finally introduce some new models to the China market in an effort to go against the stodgy, bureaucratic reputation of its flagship A4 and A8.