European Battles

While auto sales continue to lead the US economic recovery, with especially encouraging sales increases in premium models and luxury vehicles — Europe is a battleground for car makers! In March sales tumbled for the 18 th consecutive month with new vehicle registrations in the European Union dropping more than 10 percent.

Even at the high end of the market there is no relief with sales at Mercedes off by 1.2 percent, BMW down 4.7 percent, and VW sales sliding 9 percent even though its premium Audi brand has mounted a formidable challenge to the leading performance luxury competitors.

These grim statistics – amid a Euro Zone economic crisis that just won’t go away – make the US market more important than ever before for the top tier European car makers.

For example — Audi with sales still half of Mercedes and BMW — is targeting an increase in annual U.S. sales of more than 40% to 200,000 cars by 2018.

To reach this goal Audi is seeking a younger market, with smart line-up of sedans, coupes, small and mid-sized SUVs, and even the R8 super-car with the relatively gentle $120,000 – $160,000 price-tag.