- The second generation of the Audi A1, which has been on sale since 2018, is falling short of expectations in terms of sales figures.
- This, together with strong intra-group competition, could mean that it does not get a direct successor. In addition, Audi would like to position itself higher again.
- According to reports, however, the Ingolstadt-based company is working on a small e-car that will evoke memories of the advanced A2 from 1999.
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The sleek A1 has rounded out the bottom of Audi’s lineup for nearly eleven years. But even with the first generation, the Ingolstadt-based company had certain problems getting the premium small car to the people. The Polo brother was simply too expensive for the price-sensitive segment. It also lacked that certain cult factor that made the Mini a long-time favorite despite its upscale rates. The second A1 generation, available only as a five-door model, has been rolling off the production line since 2018. However, with an entry-level price of just over 20,000 euros, the current model is also anything but a bargain and therefore once again stands out with disappointing sales figures. In 2020, the Ingolstadt-based company was only able to sell 63,468 units worldwide.
The SUV Q2 as the new entry-level model
It is therefore hardly surprising that Audi boss Markus Duesmann is openly questioning a direct successor. He told Wirtschaftswoche in early January, “The A1 is of course under discussion. This is a segment in which we as a group are more than successfully represented.” And indeed, the VW Group is already well-positioned in the small car segment with its closely related, more affordable, and successful platform brothers Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo, as well as the now somewhat aging Skoda Fabia.
However, it is not only the sales difficulties mentioned at the beginning and its less expensive group brothers that are putting pressure on the smallest Audi. In the future, the premium brand would like to focus more on upscale and more profitable vehicle classes again. In view of the omnipresent SUV trend, the Q2 has much better chances of survival. Markus Duesmann sees the small SUV as the brand’s new entry-level model. There will probably be no smaller car with four rings on the grille in the future. The CEO also hinted that the overlap between the new electric models and the series with combustion engines should be kept to a minimum. In view of the strict emissions standards and the general trend toward e-mobility, some of the old familiar models are therefore likely to be retired. The A1, with its low margin, is likely to be one of the first candidates. It would also be very expensive to electrify it and thus make it fit for the future.
An e-car with A2 genes planned
The British magazine Autocar also reports that Audi’s forward-looking Artemis development department is working on a compact electric car in the style of the Audi A2. The latter was a misunderstood minivan built from 1999 to 2005. With its streamlined lines, particularly lightweight aluminum body, and economical downsized engines, it was far ahead of its time. Audi apparently wants to continue this pioneering spirit with the new e-car. It is likely to inherit the aerodynamically optimized design, the lightweight material mix, and the intelligent space concept from its predecessor.
The omission of the combustion engine allows completely new proportions and a particularly airy feeling of space.
When asked whether it will be a direct rebirth of the A2, Markus Duesmann gave the following answer, according to Autocar: “Maybe not exactly with this design, but I like the A2. Of course, we’re also talking about the A2 segment. So it could be called A2 or E2. But A3 or E3 would also be possible. We are still discussing that at the moment.”
Quite apart from its name, Audi provided a first glimpse of the possible production model two years ago with its Al:ME electric study.
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