Bidding goodbye to an outstanding 2012 calendar year that saw an 11.7 percent global sales climb that amounted to roughly 1,455,100 vehicles, Audi enters 2013 in a position where even greater opportunity exists. Creating a product line-up that has nailed the current marketplace looking for modern, premium vehicles that marries old-school luxury comfort with innovative technology, the German auto brand’s most iconic feature celebrates an impressive milestone continuing to speak to Audi’s success. After 33 years, the five-millionth version of Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive system was celebrated by the “four ring” marque.
Becoming the centerpiece of a monumental feat for the German luxury brand, a white Audi A6 Allroad was led down the assembly line of the Neckarsulm manufacturing plant. A vehicle limited to European markets, the A6 Allroad’s presence as the five-millionth quattro all-wheel drive vehicle comes after three decades that involved more than 140 Audi products sporting the trademark drivetrain. Audi’s all-wheel drive history was established in 1980 by the Audi Ur-quattro introduced as the Geneva Motor Show. An early adopter of all-wheel drive in the modern era of motoring, Audi’s original vehicle would be a forerunner to a trend that almost every current automaker has added to at least one car. Bridging the history of the Audi quattro all-wheel drive system employment in passenger cars, the 2013 A6 Allroad was photographed alongside an Ur-quattro at the German production facility.
Though the quattro name is bracing for its official 33rd birthday in March 3rd, the actual technology behind the all-wheel drive has been constantly improved. Audi’s quattro drive system evolved as it was mated to dual-clutch transmissions and TDI diesel engines in the late 1980s. Placed with coupes, sedans and eventually crossover vehicles such as the Audi Q7, quattro was proudly associated with a rear mid-engined production vehicle starting in 2007. The Audi R8 supercar’s success as a halo car allowed the quattro all-wheel drive system to be showcased in a state of pure driving performance. Ever evolving, a crown gear differential and torque vectoring have been most recent additions to quattro drive now more than ever making use of electronic driving assist programs.
The five-millionth quattro all-wheel drive fitted Audi is definitely a standout number based on the reality the auto brand is traditionally reaching an upscale automotive crowd. Making the milestone especially impressive is how the production total had made such strides in recent years. During the 30th anniversary of the quattro system, there were 3.3 million Audi cars and crossover vehicles mated with the permanent all-wheel drive configuration. According to Audi, new car buyers in 2012 requested a quattro-equipped model 43 percent of the time. The Neckarsulm manufacturing facility output of Audi vehicles accounts that one-half of all products are powered through quattro all-wheel drive systems.
In recent Audi global line-ups, only the subcompact Audi A1 had been denied a quattro all-wheel drive system. This changed when Audi green lit production of an A1 quattro in Europe. Bred through racing and even provoking bans by some sanctioning bodies, Audi quattro drive has also regained its spectacular appearance in competition as late. Creating their electrified version of a prototype sports car, the quattro name joined the Audi R18 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro racecar was driven to overall victory in 2012 becoming the first hybrid vehicle to win the great sports car endurance challenge. The 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona more than six months later was another great moment took place when a Alex Job Racing Audi R8 Grand Am car fitted with quattro all-wheel drive grabbed first place in the GT class.
Reaching five million vehicles, Audi only intends to extract more potential from the quattro drive trekking into new realms of driving excellence.
Information and photo source: Audi AG
Wearing Audi’s brand new exterior appearance philosophy, the A6 and now the smaller A4 enters the 2012 European market under the optimism they are providing vehicles the customers want. While the four-door sedans are the hot commodity of almost any automotive marketplace, the European marketplace for Audi for the A4 and A6 includes the Avant wagon model. Picked as one of the favourite cars from 2011 by Motors.co.uk, the Audi A6 Avant was appreciated by the reputable British on-line marketplace site for its superior build, performance choice and larger size. Some would definitely think that the A6 Avant could be a hot seller in the United States premium car community. Unfortunately, the entire Avant line is on a hiatus from the United States market through the 2012 model year.
A prized automotive marketplace that had completely divested from wagons during the late 1990s, North American appetites first turned to minivans evolving into the sport utility craze. Thanks to the car-based crossover vehicle, the wagon has made a recovery of sorts undercover of all-wheel drive propulsion and taller rooflines. Returning in a similar manner as the five-door hatchback to United States, the wagon configuration is seen in a less conventional form.
In the mainstream auto marketplace, vehicles like the Nissan Juke, Kia Soul and Toyota Versa has been romancing the typical wagon family crowds. Luxury motorists also demand a car with extended cargo capacities mobilizing cars like the Mercedes-Benz R-Class and the Lexus CT200h as elegant yet creative approaches to premium utility. As buyers seek the unique interpretations of crossover utility motoring, the traditional wagon configuration of the Audi Avant models places the vehicles in a sub-category less likely to be success. Even though quattro all-wheel drive would play a part through the acceptance of both the A4 and A6 Avant, these wagon’s face a tough American automotive audience.
Traditional wagon vehicles based on the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon and the Acura TSX have fought with mixed success for automobile market share against the premium crossover utility products. Existing as the Honda Accord Tourer in Europe, the Acura TSX Sport Wagon was introduced to the North American product line-up for 2011 has sold 2,915 examples (accounting for less than 10 percent total TSX model produced in 2011). Acura had initially released the TSX Sport Wagon with the anticipation of selling 4,000 a year in North America. Along with sales difficulties for new releases, add to equation reduced competition in the segment with the fact Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have either decreased or completely eliminated their conventional looking wagons from the United States car line-up.
Another obstacle to the prompt appearance of the Avant versions of the Audi A4 and Audi A6 in North America comes directly from their own four-ring badged vehicles. Audi’s own crossover vehicles (the Q5 and Q7) are already entrenched in the North American sale plans. Audi is still mulling over whether the compact crossover Q3 will arrive stateside. For American premium car buyers desiring more usable cargo room, Audi believes that their newly released A7 Sportback captures the intentions of utility without the stigma of a wagon.
The Avant’s return to the United States marketplace will be guided by customer demand. Based on the arrival of the Audi TT RS and the upcoming US arrival of the RS5 in 2012, the Germany luxury badge has developed a good track record for recognizing the allure North American consumers have for their European vehicles. Perhaps with enough coaxing, the Audi A6 Avant could be a matter of a few requests away.
Information source: Audi AG, American Honda Motors
Photo source: Audi AG