The South African new premium car market will this year probably decline by another 7% to 15% to between 55 000 and 60 000 units, down from the roughly 65 000 units recorded last year.
This follows a 20% drop in the domestic new premium car market in 2016, says Audi South Africa (SA) head Trevor Hill.
Hill joined Audi SA on June 1.
He adds that Audi SA, however, expects a somewhat better 2017 than the overall premium market, which is battling a floundering South African economy.
New Audi sales declined less than 1% in the first five months of the year.
“We achieved 20% market share in the premium market in May,” says Hill.
Audi sales in South Africa have been boosted by the introduction of new product, as well as a number of diesel models.
Hill says the buying-down trend, clearly visible in the South African new-car market, is also in vogue in the premium market.
Sales of the A4 are declining, for example, with sales of the smaller A3 picking up.
He says Audi SA plans to increase its market share.
Royalty “We are not holding back on any new products. We are bringing everything [to South Africa].”
He acknowledges, however, that it is difficult to beat other premium brands, such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, by numbers, as they have broader product ranges, which means Audi must ensure that it offers the best value, brand and quality, thereby ensuring the loyalty of its customers.
Audi SA’s biggest challenge is the fluctuating rand, with the currency infected by the current climate of political uncertainty.
Audi’s First EV in SA
Audi’s C-BEV (battery electric vehicle), planned for 2019, will also be the first electric vehicle (EV) Audi SA will introduce onto the local market, says Hill.
He says legislation in China will push the global development of EVs, with petrol and diesel vehicles to be banned from some big cities by 2020.
“We sell 600 000 units a year in China. “We are developing six EVs for China only.”
Global EV sales are expected to reach between 30% and 40% of all global sales by 2025, and 30% of all Audi sales.
“For sure, EVs will come to South Africa too, and it will happen quicker than we think,” says Hill.
He says Audi SA is currently mapping the pockets in South Africa most suited for the introduction of an Audi EV.Infrastructure
He believes it is necessary for investors, governments and vehicle manufacturers to work together on setting up the infrastructure, such as charging points, to enable the roll-out of EVs in South Africa.
Hill notes that EV drivers’ biggest fear, namely running out of juice, will be countered by a new generation of EVs with a range of between 500 km and 800 km.