Audi doesn’t have it so easy. Being such a successful global automotive brand, the German marque faces hefty competition from a wealth of rivals; rivals from across the world who want to steal some of the success Audi often enjoys. There are however a few brands that place Audi up there as an arch rival, a brand to target competition with and go toe-to-toe against. So who are those brands, and how do they compete? Well here are just five of the biggest manufacturers Audi faces within the automotive world, in no particular order:
Of course the old German rivals were going to make this list, with Mercedes sharing much of its racing success of the ‘old days’ with Audi in both sports cars and Grand Prix racing. Mercedes has been a significant rival to Audi on the road too, often producing cars to directly rival Audi’s own.
A great example from recent years includes the Mercedes C63 AMG, a car born to compete in the class Audi had invested heavily in with its own S5 sports saloon. Unfortunately for Audi, most car reviews placed the Mercedes on top for that battle thanks to the Mercedes’ award winning 6.2-litre V8 powerplant, but battles elsewhere have often seen Audi take the crown.
In the Sports Utility Vehicle department for example, Audi’s Q7 is rated more highly than Mercedes’ ML equivalent thanks to its aggressive styling and sportier underpinnings. Audi’s A3 has also been a more popular option than Mercedes’ A-Class thanks to its sleeker styling and better build quality. In true Merc-Audi rivalry however, Mercedes’ latest A-Class looks set to take the hatchback crown back, but with Audi developing their next generation of cars, there’s little doubt that this tit-for-tat battle is set to continue.
Looking at Mercedes’ economic situation, the marque has pushed on strongly with profits worth just under£3,640million in 2012 for its car division (Daimler, 2012). Strong it may be, this does in fact represent a 16% decrease in profits from the year before.
Mercedes may have given Audi something to think about when designing new cars, but in many ways it has been BMW who has been the biggest threat to Audi’s creations. With its sporty saloons and aggressive design cues, BMWs of late are often labelled as equals to Audi on the design front. But its BMW’s M department that really has Audi shaking in its boots, because the almighty M3 and M5 sports saloons have reigned supreme for quite some time now in their respective classes. Audi’s S4 and S5 answers have provided good equivalents, but in most cases the M badged cars have come out on top.
Nevertheless, Audi’s future looks most promising because its Quattro Concept could be the biggest hit to the BMW, and of course, Mercedes rivalry. Utilising a twin-turbo V8 engine driving all four wheels, the Quattro concept promises brute power with exceptional grip, whilst appearing far more aggressive than its German rivals thanks to the use of laser headlight technology. BMW has reined king of these two sporting luxury brands in recent times, but that could easily change in coming years.
BMW has enjoyed much financial success in recent times, with profits before tax increasing by 5.9% in 2012 to almost £6,484million (BMW Group, 2013). This significant figure incorporates BMW’s motorcycle division, as well as the brands MINI and Rolls-Royce which BMW owns.
Where Audi has reined supreme is in the sports car department, with its R8 offering super car performance at a fairly cheap price (in comparison to many other brands). This great achievement has unfortunately meant Audi has entered a highly competitive field where Volkswagen Group stable-mate Porsche has been incredibly dominant.
Producing 517bhp from its V10 engine, the top of the range £125,360 R8 is certainly no slouch, but the equivalent Porsche 911 Turbo S is on sale at a similarly priced £126,950 and offers a sprint to 60mph in 3.2 seconds compared to the Audi’s 3.7, as well as possessing a chassis labelled as the best in its class. Nevertheless, styling, presence and even engine noise are all often granted as the Audi’s strengths, so the R8 is certainly no loser in the sports car realm but instead an exciting alternative.
Porsche increased its earnings from 2011 by 12%, to reach almost £2196million in 2012 (Porsche, 2012).
Building a purpose built sports car meant Audi also had to take on the big boys. Ferrari, a name that needs no introduction, has the advantage of being fully committed to the sports and super car scene. But with Audi’s R8 V10 representing such fantastic value for money, Ferrari has had to consider the German carmaker as a rival for its entry level California.
With the entry level price of the baby Ferrari being £152,151, the more powerful and all round faster V10 Audi offers far greater value for money. Of course, the car with the Prancing Horse on the front will no doubt hold its value for longer, whilst also offering more exclusivity. But with Audi showing that a decrease in cost doesn’t have to mean a decrease in performance or build quality, the R8 is a genuine rival to Ferrari.
Of course, being a specialised brand Ferrari’s sales of course will be far lower than those of the aforementioned brands. As a result the comparatively small £202million profits from 2012 may seem weak, but in fact they represent a 17.8% increase over the previous year, meaning Ferrari’s growth has been substantial (Ferrari.com, 2013).
Last but not least, Jaguar, the luxury car brand from Coventry, England, has raced forward as a competitor to Audi with the recent launch of its F-Type sports car. Existing models including the XK, XJ and XF all compete directly with Audi in the luxury car department, but it’s the British marque’s sports car that has seriously threatened Audi’s R8.
Demanding just £79,985 from a potential buyer for the top of the range V8 model, Jaguar’s F-Type offers open top sports motoring for almost £7000 less than Audi’s entry level R8. The Brit sprints to 60mph quicker too, taking just 4.2 seconds to reach the marker three-tenths ahead of the V8 version of the Audi. Undeniably the Jaguar has been labelled as the prettier car, as well as being more exclusive due to being far newer. Nevertheless, with the R8 having been on sale since 2007 its replacement is sure to arrive soon. This open top sports car battle is certainly not won.
Jaguar’s financial figures are intertwined with co-brand Land Rover, so success also heavily depends on its sister marque. But even before the first sales of the F-Type were accounted for, the brand’s 2012 profit reached £1507million (Jaguar Land Rover, 2013). Profits are almost certain to increase into the future as the marque introduces more new models.
So Audi, the brand that faces so much competition from a such a wide variety of carmakers, certainly doesn’t have it easy. So with all that competition, how has Audi done in recent years. Financially speaking, the German carmaker has done well. Profits were just shy of £4939million in 2012, representing a decrease of 1.4% on the previous year but placing it second overall in terms of overall profits in this rivals list (Audi, 2013).
BMW may still rank as the number one manufacturer of Audi’s main competitors when money is concerned, but with an exciting future of innovation ahead and fast approaching new range, Audi could well become an even stronger contender in this luxury sports carmaker battle.
All images sourced from press/media sites of manufacturer
Car facts and figures: Parkers.co.uk
Daimler, 2013. Daimler Annual Report 2012. p92 (figure 3.11)
BMW Group, 2013. BMW Group Annual Report 2012. p5
Porsche, 2013. Porsche Annual Report 2012. p129
Ferrari.com, 2013. 2012 Financial Results Reveal Best Year In Ferrari History. [Online] Available at: http://www.ferrari.com/english/about_ferrari/corporate/Pages/2012-financial-results-reveal-best-year-in-ferrari-history.aspx
Jaguar Land Rover, 2013. Jaguar Land Rover Annual Report 2012/2013. pi
Audi, 2013. Audi Annual Report 2012. piii