It’s hard to imagine any car company reporting increased sales for 2008. Yet Audi AG had sales gains of 4.1% last year, including a 17% improvement in December. The engine for this growth, reported the Wall Street Journal, has been the new A4 and the small crossover Q5, now available in the U.S. SUVs are coming back?
Audi has also been moving up against its German competitors, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, though all have been hard hit by the poopy U.S. auto market. The company reported that most of its growth last year came from sales in Europe and Asia; for the U.S., sales fell 6.1%. Since North American sales account for about 12% of Audi’s annual revenue, there may be problems ahead if the U.S. market continues weak—that is, poopy.
China and the UK have been Audi’s largest export markets, but as we know, the plague is spreading throughout Asia, including South Korea, which has five carmakers, Hyundai being the biggest. Bet you never heard of the smallest, Ssangyong. (According to Wikipedia, they used to be called Dong-A Motor, maybe a better name.) You probably won’t hear much of them again, because they went bankrupt on Friday, the first of the Asian car companies to do so.
Who do you think will go bankrupt next?