Volume makers ‘forced to abandon’ large cars
That’s the claim of Audi, which is describing the European large car market as like a soufflé sagging in the middle.
Premium brands such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar are continuing to prosper along with laudable affordable’ makers such as Hyundai, Kia and Skoda.
But the mainstream European producers that once hogged the vast proportion of sales, especially in their home markets, are being squeezed in the middle.
According to Audi nothing illustrates the change in fortunes more than the executive and luxury (C and D) sectors.
In 1978 Ford built more than 235,000 Granadas while BMW turned out less than 20,000 large saloons.
Nine years later, when Audi entered the top strata of the market by producing just 2,300 versions of the Audi A8, Vauxhall and Opel made more than 188,000 Omegas.
Yet today hardly any volume European manufacturers make C or D segment saloons and estates, while Audi alone made 38,500 A8s in 2011.
“The consumer dynamic has shifted and the middle ground is sinking,” says Audi spokesman Jon Zammett. “The volume car makers have had to abandon large cars.”
Zammett makes his claim at the launch of the latest model in Audi’s large-car portfolio, the new A6 allroad. In showrooms next month, this is an A6 Avant (estate) with some SUV looks, attitude and capability.
According to Zmmett allroad buyers are “the most affluent and most demanding” that the brand sells to, attracted not only by the way the car fits in with their leisure interests – which often revolve around boats or horses – but also by its discreet appearance.
It can tow 500 kilos more than a regular A6 Avant, and with quattro permanent four-wheel drive, standard on every model, it is unfazed by a muddy paddock or a greasy slipway.
The allroad is available with a choice of three 3.0-litre TDI turbodiesel engines or a 3.0-litre V6 TFSI turbocharged petrol unit from £43,150.
Watch for a First Drive of the A6 allroad later this week on CarandVanNews.
Words by: Headline Auto