GUANGZHOU -- Audi
expects sales volumes in China to grow strongly enough
in November and December to reverse a 3 percent decline in
the first 10 months of the year.
Joachim Wedler, the head of the brand's Chinese business,
told Reuters on Thursday he expected a small single-digit
percentage rise in full-year volumes in the world's biggest auto
"We had some challenges in the first five months, but in the
end of the year we will be back," he said in an interview ahead
of the Guangzhou auto show.
"Last year we sold 585,000 vehicles (in China). In 2017 we
will be ahead so we will touch very close to the 600,000 mark."
Wedler did not provide a specific sales forecast for 2018.
"We are expecting the premium market next year to grow
by single digits, and we are positive we can follow the premium
market percentage," he said.
Chinese sales at Volkswagen-owned Audi slumped
earlier this year after its relationships with existing retail
store operators soured in the wake of its move to set up a
second Chinese joint venture with SAIC Motor.
According to industry experts, the move angered Audi's
existing dealers, which sell cars produced by its joint venture
The existing dealers stopped stocking Audi cars in protest,
experts said. This, along with the aging Audi A6 sedan,
depressed Audi sales, they said.
"This dealer issue lasted for more than half year and it was
a serious issue," said Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consultancy
"The other issue is the A6. The car is aging and it is in
the final stage of its lifecycle. It just cannot compete with
the new Mercedes E-class and the redesigned BMW 5-series."
Wedler said Audi's relationship with its dealers has been
fully restored after an agreement it signed with them in May.
A redesign of the A6 sedan is in the works, and 2018 will see a
global launch of the new car, Audi officials said. The company
has not communicated publicly when the redesigned A6 might hit
the market in China, they said.
Audi plans to launch five so-called new-energy vehicle
models, all locally produced in China, over the next few
years. New energy vehicles refer to all-electric battery cars
and plug-in electric hybrids.
The Guangzhou auto show starts on Friday.