Chinese customers are especially important to Audi in the transition year


An Audi Q2L at the International New Energy Automotive Exhibition in Haikou, Hainan Province in South China, on January 12, 2019. [Photo/VCG]

INGOLSTADT – Chinese customers are particularly important to Audi and there will be a significantly greater focus on China in the product development process, according to drivers of German car manufacturer Audi AG on Thursday.

Securing the Chinese market is the first priority of the regrouping, says Bram Schot, chairman of the board of directors, during his annual press conference.

"China is and remains our largest internal market … We want to continue to grow profitably there and develop products and services that are precisely tailored to that market," Schot added.

"We have also implemented a new management model: with clear responsibilities on the Board of Directors, a significantly greater focus on China in the product development process and a stronger local presence," he repeated.

Schot said that 2019 will be a transition year for the company in Ingolstadt.

According to Alexander Seitz, member of the board responsible for finance, China, compliance and integrity, more than 660,000 cars were delivered to Chinese customers in 2018, an increase of 11 percent.

"China provided the volume peak that we needed in that difficult year," Seitz said, adding, "We want to continue to lead in China, the market of the future."

"Local research and development, strong local partnerships and China-only products will enable us to respond even better to the needs of our Chinese customers," said Seitz about the press conference.

In 2018, Audi delivered 1.81 million cars worldwide, a decrease of 3.5 percent over the previous year. Group sales reached 59 billion euros ($ 66.7 billion). The operational return on sales fell to 6 percent as a result of special items due to the diesel crisis.