The star of the VW Group’s growth story, Audi aims to become the number one premium brand in its sector by using its expertise, passion, and agility to ‘create the best brand experience through innovative and emotional products’ that all bring to life its core brand values of being ‘sophisticated, progressive and sporty.’ Achieving this ambition demands not only great products and the nurturing of a leading automotive brand but also continued leverage of the VW organization and its capabilities. Audi brings significant profits and status to the VW Group, but VW’s technology and platform sharing are in turn major assets for Audi.
Key to Audi’s strategy to become the #1 brand is its long term focus on leading-edge design both in terms of technical engineered design and aesthetic product design. Audi’s use of technology to lead brand development can be traced to 1971, when the company, with a growing range of respected models, chose to start using the ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ slogan to share the intent behind them. Translating as ‘progress through technology,’ this line has been used in advertising campaigns across the world and remains central to the brand’s ethos and communications.
If awards are the measure of success and a reflection of prowess in the automotive sector then, across the board, Audi is plainly making the running. Although it shares many platforms with VW and uses common technology in its engines and drive trains, some see that the Audi design team ‘lives and breathes different air,’ and the numerous award-winning and commercially successful products have ensured that design remains at the very heart of the Audi organization.
In terms of the advantages of being part of VW, foremost for Audi has been the ability to gain access to new technology far earlier than would be possible in smaller companies with lower development budgets. This comes from platform sharing where the engines, floorplans, and other components are shared across different models including the VW Golf, Beetle, and Audi TT. Audi also gains from sharing the VW Group’s back office systems, distribution network, dealerships, financing support, and media buying. Although each brand maintains a separate profit and loss, sharing and collaboration delivers margin enhancement across the group.
Moving ahead to 2020 where the company’s vision of being the world’s number one premium brand is firmly set, the continued desire to ‘delight customers worldwide’ through innovative and emotional products and Audi brand experience looks like a good bet. While other firms are striving to catch up with Audi, given its current lead, the resolute determination to steadily shift upmarket, the commitment it has to continuing to lead automotive design, and its growing and loyal customer base, for now many in the sector see that Audi is firmly in the driving seat.