Audi to boost production with new plant in China
Audi AG plans to more than double its production in China to 700,000 vehicles annually in coming years, starting with a new plant in the southern city of Foshan, where it will build the A3 compact from 2013.
"The FAW-VW joint venture, in which Audi has a stake together with Volkswagen and the Chinese partner FAW, will invest roughly 3 billion euros (26 billion yuan) in the model range, production and distribution of the Audi brand in China over the next five years," Audi said in a statement on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the company said the brand's current production capacity in China totals 300,000 vehicles in Changchun, where Audi A4, A6 and Q5 models are made.
The added production will help Audi to defend its status as China's top-selling luxury brand despite aggressive expansion efforts by rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG.
Based on this year's sales, Audi soon will need more production capacity. In October, Audi sales rose 62 percent year-on-year to 27,729 cars.
And in the first 10 months, Audi sales in China rose 32 percent to 253,739 vehicles. Including imported models like the A8 sedan, Audi forecasts that its sales will total a record 300,000 vehicles this year.
The new factory in Foshan will have a capacity to build 150,000 to 200,000 cars from 2013, adding to output from the plant in Changchun which will be raised to as many as 550,000 cars, Audi said.
The new plant will employ about 4,000 workers and produce a "new member" of the A3 compact line, the carmaker's third-best selling model, Audi added.
Rising wealth standards and an increasingly important middle class have spurred a boom in sales of premium cars in China, making the country the most important growth market for Audi and its two German rivals, Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG.
In a September study published jointly by the PwC consultancy and the German automotive industry association VDA, the two forecast "immense growth potential" for luxury carmakers like Audi as penetration expands to similar levels seen in the U.S. and Europe.
"Were 15 percent of Chinese customers today to buy premium cars, then the market would have been 2.1 million vehicles in size," the study found.
It forecast the number of high net worth individuals with more than $1 million (6.3 million yuan) in disposable income would grow by 2015 to 1 million.