‘Audis all look the same’ say customers
Audi is, if you'll pardon the cliché, on a roll: they sold more cars in the first 11 months of 2012 than in the whole of 2011 - itself a record year - and they're investing €13 billion (R146 billion) between now and the end of 2016 in their efforts to become the world's No.1 premium car company, and to sell two million cars in 2020.
That includes pouring nearly €8 billion (R90 billion) into the plants at Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, as well as a press shop, body shop and paint shop in Gyor, Hungary that should be ready to go at the end of 2013, a new assembly line in Foshan, China that will begin rolling in early 2014 and a new factory in San José Chiapa, Mexico, that's scheduled to start turning out Audis by 2016.
The rest of the money will go into developing new models, as well as new technologies in lightweight design and construction, and electric power.
But not all is rosy in the four-ringed garden.
Since former Bentley boss Wolfgang Dürheimer took over as Audi board member for R&D in September he's picked up that, although models such as the A5/S5 and the A8 flagship in particular are "absolute eye-catchers", there has been "criticism from some markets" that Audis across the range are too similar, that it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart, especially from the front.
He told German publication AutoMotorundSport in a recent interview: "In the future, I will work with our designers to differentiate the 'faces' of our various model series.
"An A8 buyer will, in future, find details in his car that will differ significantly from those on the A4 or the A6.
"The objective is to move forward with even greater steps and more courage to new lines.
“However, our future models will still be clearly and unmistakably identified as Audis."