Audi launches new A8, a limousine almost to the glory

“We listen to our customers when they come to us asking for more, or sometimes maybe when we ask for less “… The words of Rupert Stadler, Ceo of Audi, slice with the launch, in excess, of the new A8, on Tuesday in Barcelona. This limousine of 5.17 million, which is 3.5 cm longer than the previous one, must be what the German car brand has more luxurious but also more sophisticated. It is on this segment that a premium brand needs to accomplish its status as a label to the top-of-the-line. Finally, the first issue of the Audi A8 is therefore more an issue of prestige brand sales volume. After all, the three previous generations have passed 500,000 units in aggregate… Or just to 22,000 cars per year on average since its first version in 1994. But Audi recalls, however, that the latest version launched in 2010 has sold as many copies as the previous two generations combined.

Sell in the ranges below

For Audi, the role of the A8 is therefore to install its most innovative technologies, but especially the most exclusive before you duplicate them in a second time, to the ranges below.

“The position of a premium brand should talk and what kind of a model ultra-luxurious must allow to hit the spirits and thus maintain the collective imaginary around this universe. It is very favorable for the ranges below that benefit from the radiation of the brand of this quasi-exclusive “, says Guillaume Crunelle, a partner responsible for the automotive industry at Deloitte.

It is about autonomy in terms of the delegation of driving the A8 wants to position itself. It claims to offer a range of level 3 (on a scale of 1 to 5, knowing that the level 3 allows you to let go completely of the commands in certain conditions). On this theme, Mercedes had acquired a certain primacy in the culmination of the “wizards of conduct” dedicated to through the a very successful Class E. But there is no rush since in any case, the legislation in force limits the interest of deploying technologies that are too ambitious. It prevents the… Audi had to advance his pawns and the A8 was a great opportunity to make a showcase.

The new limousine in the face of the offensive of the SUV

A showcase so ? This is the role which risk to be confined to the A8. This huge limousine is placed on a segment of increasingly narrow, and is primarily aimed at the north american market and in China. Because, in truth, the dynamic is rather on the SUV, and Audi is in full offensive on this type of the body. After having long occupied this segment with a range limited to three models (Q3, Q5 and Q7), the brand with the rings was launched last year, the Q2, an SUV placed on the very dynamic segment of the B-SUV in Europe (Captur and 2008) but which did not yet have templates premium. Well they took since after a good reception by the trade press, the Q2 sells like hotcakes. But the most interesting is to come knowing that the range will be completed with two new SUV, coupe this time, joining the BMW and Mercedes and their respective X6 and other GLE Cut. The arrival of Q8, which a concept has been recently unveiled, is imminent (about 2018). But Q4 is also in the pipes. In the end, Audi might as well develop a six-SUV in the next three years, where there was only three there was little still. Not to mention that the Q7 has been renewed in 2015, the Q5 in 2016, and while a new T3 is expected next year. In short, the news are products of Audi is as loaded as it is ambitious and could dilute the effect of the A8. But for Guillaume Crunelle, the limousine has not said its last word :

“All market segments have not yet been tested by the surging SUV. It is not surprising that one of the limo still resists because it is a segment with established codes subject to traditions quasi-immutable. It is difficult to imagine the universe the adventurer of the SUV to be imposed in this universe. “

As a challenger to the S-Class Mercedes

So this is not such a bad new that it finally since the A8 would thus be endowed with a mission almost niche, and therefore of privacy. The nec plus ultra of the requirement of the customer is truly top-of-the-line. Let’s just remember that the Audi A8 is in a price range that starts at 100,000 euros… out of options and with the first level of finish !

Confidential sales can be… Issue of brand image surely. The Audi A8 does not forget that it is still in a position of challenger in the face of the S-Class, leader, unbeaten in the segment and is the basis of the reputation of the entire Mercedes brand.

It is for these reasons that the Audi A8 can afford no compromise on quality, it must offer the best in terms of comfort, and deploy what is best in terms of technology. This is certainly not the A8 that Audi will be ” less “, Mr Rupert Stadler…

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