Despite the fact that many of us are feeling the pinch of unemployment, underemployment or questionable job security, there’s clearly a segment of the population unconcerned over personal financial issues. While car sales were up in 2010 after a disastrous 2009, luxury car sales are way up. BMW sold 220,113 vehicles last year, an increase of 12% over 2009. Mercedes Benz sold 225,007 vehicles in the U.S. last year, an increase of 18%. Audi, on the other hand had a record year in 2010, with sales of 101,629 vehicles and growth of 23% compared to 2009. Audi’s sales even grew 10% beyond their previous best year, 2007, when the company sold 93,506 vehicles.
An expanded lineup, now up to 10 models and some 20 variants, helped fuel sales. The redesigned Audi A8, launched in November of 2010, brought luxury buyers into Audi showrooms and experienced a 378% sales growth in December compared to 2009. Sales of Audi’s best seller, the Q5 crossover, increased by over 70% in 2010.
Audi has previously stated their intention to be the number one luxury brand by 2015, and they’re certainly taking steps in the right direction to accomplish this. Audi will offer more diesel variants in the U.S. over the next two years, which will give car buyers an alternative to small displacement, turbocharged gas engines or parallel hybrid vehicles. Audi’s even generated interest among enthusiasts with the announcement of the TT-RS, the RS3 and a potentially new RS4. We know we’ll get the TT-RS and it’s safe to assume we’ll get the RS4, but the RS3 remains an unknown; I say bring it in, but only if it can be priced competitively. At the RS3’s domestic market price of €49,900, or roughly $68,000, I don’t see much demand on this side of the pond.