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Audi A3 Wins World Car of the Year

Germans take clean sweep of five awards.

by on Apr.17, 2014

Scott Keogh, Audi of America’s CEO, clutches the large World Car Trophy in front of the Audi A3.

The Audi A3 was named the World Car of the Year during a ceremony at the New York International Auto Show Thursday, marking the second time the maker has captured the prestigious honor in recent years.

But there was something for everyone during the morning ceremony – at least if you were a German automaker, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche dividing up the four other trophies handed out for 2014.

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“This really represents what Audi does extremely well,” proclaimed Scott Keogh, Audi of America’s CEO, as he clutched the large World Car Trophy at the podium. “We couldn’t be prouder to win this award.” (more…)

Audi Adds TDI Sportback to A3 Line-Up

Diesel will join plug-in hybrid version of new wagon.

by on Apr.16, 2014

Audi is adding two new vehicles to its A3 lineup: a Sportback diesel and a Sportback e-tron, which is a plug-in hybrid.

The latest-generation Audi A3 has only just gone on sale but the German maker is already expanding the range of offerings for the small car line.

That will now include two high-mileage versions of the A3 Sportback – or wagon, if you prefer. A diesel version will roll into showrooms next year, joining the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, the maker’s new plug-in hybrid.

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The fact that Audi will soon have two versions of the Sportback in the entry-level A3 line-up is significant considering it seemed bound and determined to abandon the wagon for the U.S. market not all that long ago.  But it got a different message from prior owners. (more…)

Audi Goes Plug-n-Play

Maker’s new infotainment system will be upgradeable.

by on Mar.21, 2014

Audi developed a high-tech interior for its new A3.

As millions of early OnStar users discovered, in-car technology can quickly go out of date. They found their systems shut off when the maker switched from analog to digital a few years back.

Unlike plug-n-play desktop and laptop computers, today’s in-car systems usually can’t be updated as new technology comes out.  You either buy a new car or suffer with a slow user interface or an outdated display.

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But Audi is about to shift directions in a bid to deliver in-car technology that can keep pace with the rapid changes of consumer electronics.  The new 2015 Audi A3, for example, will have a more computer-like graphic display system from NVIDIA, one of the top suppliers for desktop and laptop manufacturers.  A couple years from now, a motorist would be able to simply swap out the original video display card for a newer, presumably faster and higher-resolution one.


On Track for 10 Mil. Could VW Top Toyota This Year?

German maker cautiously optimistic even as profits tumble.

by on Mar.13, 2014

VW is looking to beat 10 million units in worldwide sales with vehicles like the Golf GTD this year.

Trying to get a clear sense of how to read Volkswagen’s latest numbers might leave you scratching your head and, indeed, a quick look at the ways the results are being reported – and the comments made by the company’s top leaders – might only add to the confusion. The interpretation might depend on whether you look at the half-full or half-empty side.

What’s indisputable is that VW’s net income took a sharp, 58% drop for 2013. The German maker made €9 billion, or $12.5 billion last year, down from €21.7 billion in 2012. But if you leave out taxes and one-time charges, operating earnings rose ever so slightly to €11.7 billion euros, or $16.3 billion, from 11.5 billion euros the year before. And sales rose 2.2% to €197 billion.

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Now, jump ahead slightly, the Volkswagen assemblage of vehicle brands scoring a 4% increase in unit volume for January and February and CEO Martin Winterkorn is predicting, “There is a good chance that we will already exceed the 10 million deliveries mark this year.” (more…)

Audi Eager to Launch New A3

Audi hopes compact model will echo success of Mercedes CLA.

by on Mar.12, 2014

The all-new 2015 Audi A3 is coming to America and will be offered in four different versions.

Audi plans to kick off sales of the new A3 early next month with events at every dealership in the U.S. and Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America, says he is looking forward to the upcoming duel with Mercedes-Benz for buyers looking for a luxury car starting a shade under $30,000.

There’s little doubt the market is interested considering the rousing demand for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA since its introduction last autumn.  In fact, Daimler AG chief executive officer Dieter Zetsche recently said the Mercedes biggest challenge right now is getting more cars to sell since demand is so strong. And Audi’s rival says about 80% of CLA customers are new to the Mercedes brand.

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But Audi thinks it can fight back with the next-generation A3 which made its debut in Europe last year but is only now coming to the States in sedan form.  And much as the CLA has lifted the fortunes of Mercedes, which last year became the luxury market’s top-seller in the U.S., Audi hopes it can lift itself out of its distant third-place status, a seemingly realistic goal considering it became the world’s best-selling luxury brand for the first two months of 2014, nudging aside BMW.


Audi Takes Global Luxury Sales Lead

But BMW isn’t ready to concede defeat.

by on Mar.11, 2014

The redesigned Audi TT makes its Geneva debut.

Two months does not a year make, but in a significant breakthrough Audi AG is claiming to hold the lead in the hotly contested global luxury car maket.

The largest of the luxury brands of Volkswagen AG, Audi has been gaining ground on traditional rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz in recent years, and is hoping to solidify its first-place position with a flood of new products planned for the coming year, an assortment of which were previewed at the Geneva Motor Show last week.

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For the first two months of 2014, Audi delivered 242,000 vehicles, giving it a modest 383-unit lead over BMW.  It fell 429 cars short of its Bavarian rival during the same period last year.

And Audi intends to widen the lead, Chief Executive Officer Rupert Stadler said Tuesday at the brand’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, promising that, “We will increase deliveries in all regions of the world, including Europe.”

But Audi’s rivals aren’t ready to concede defeat.


Audi Hopes to Steal the Show with All-New TT

Third-generation model introduces Audi’s new design language.

by on Feb.21, 2014

Audi offers up a sketch of the new 2015 TT.

While its dimensions are relatively compact, Geneva’s PALExpo Convention Center will make plenty of big news next month when the annual Geneva Motor Show rolls into the city by the lake.  But Audi is hoping to deliver a real show-stopper when it lifts the cover’s on the all-new, third-generation remake of its little TT.

The basic shape is likely to seem familiar to Audi fans, with the time-tested crescent roofline and sloping hood, but the overall look is nonetheless substantially updated, the German maker suggesting with these sketches that the 2015 model will introduce us to its latest design language.

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Among the highlights of the new Audi TT are the Matrix LED headlamps and the “virtual cockpit interior.”  The design advances some earlier design cues, as well, such as the creased hood of the R8, the new TT wearing the familiar four-ring Audi logo on its hood, rather than the grille.  There are also some details lifted from the Allroad Shooting Brake Concept introduced during the Detroit Auto Show a little more than a month ago.


Audi Drops its Top with New S3 Cabriolet

U.S. plans not yet clear.

by on Feb.20, 2014

Audi's newest introduction, the S3 Cabriolet, uses a 2.0-liter turbo to produce 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque in a small package.

In the midst of its biggest product proliferation program ever, Audi is flipping its top, quite literally, with the addition of its latest convertible model, the new S3 Cabriolet.

It’s also the latest in a growing line of variants off the all-new compact platform that includes a range of products such as the new A3 wagon and sedan, as well as the A3 e-tron, Audi’s first-ever plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle.

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The designation of the new Cabriolet reveals much of the critical details, the “S” badge meaning this is one of Audi’s most sporty models. The 2015 S3 Cabriolet is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo gas engine making 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque – likely to deliver quite a punch in such a compact model. (more…)

How Low Can They Go? Competition Heats up for Entry-Lux Buyers

Audi debuting A3 at $29,900 to take on Mercedes CLA.

by on Jan.17, 2014

The all-new 2015 Audi A3 is coming to America in four different versions.

Audi will introduce its completely redesigned 2015 A3 sedan at a starting price of just $29,900, about $4,000 lower than the maker’s current base model, the A4.  That means Audi also will match the price of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA, currently one of the hottest products on the U.S. market.

The Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA are part of a wave of new entry-lux vehicles – a list also including makers like Lincoln, Cadillac and Lexus – that are meant to attract buyers who might traditionally opt for mainstream brand offerings but who would like a vehicle with a more upscale cache.

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“We’re seeing buyers we’ve never seen before in our stores,” Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, says about the impact of the new CLA coupe-like sedan. The model is perhaps the German maker’s biggest success story in the U.S. ever, with an estimated 80% of its buyers coming from outside the Mercedes brand.


It’s All in the Concept: Show Cars Pack Them in at NAIAS

But what you see might soon be what you get.

by on Jan.16, 2014

Kia's GT4 Stinger Concept was developed in a bid to enhance the Korean carmaker's image.

It’s all in the concept – at least for many automotive show-goers who can’t wait to check out the latest concept vehicles that are on display at this year’s North American International Auto Show.

Nearly a dozen new ones are making their debut this year.  Some, like the new Toyota FT-1, are pure fantasy, designed to stretch the minds of automotive designers and the public alike.  Others, like the Acura TLX Concept, are thinly disguised production vehicles that will reach showrooms in a matter of months.

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“They’re one of the best reasons to come to a show like this,” said Charlie Vogelheim, a California journalist who stuck around after the official NAIAS Media Days this week to get a second, more casual peek at some of the vehicles making their debut in Detroit.