The new Audi A1 is hot. It launches in Europe on August 27, 2010 and Audi is already overwhelmed with interest and demand. Audi set up a website (choose a European country when prompted) to promote the A1 and got 150,000 interested customers from around the world (including the US).
Based on the new VW Polo (which we may or may not get in the US), the A1 was originally only to be sold in Europe (you know, the Fatherland). However, based on initial responses, Audi will expand the A1 to global markets in 2011 with the exception of the two largest markets in the world: The United States and China. Audi says that China will get the A1 at some point AFTER 2011; however, the US market will only get the A1 “at the earliest” when the second generation goes on sale.
So we have to wait for the second generation? That’s at least 5 years. Thanks, VW/Audi, it never ceases to amaze me what never comes to the US market. Where is the new Scirocco? It continues to get rave reviews all over Europe. The Scirocco name has lots of brand equity in the US even if one hasn’t been sold here for many years. VW is terrified that the Scirocco would take sales from the GTI. Maybe, maybe not. The GTI and Scirocco are different cars and VW could command a premium for the more sporty Scirocco. What VW executives don’t see is that end result of selling both models would be increased overall sales and provide cool halo car for VW of America.
The A1 is a hot car because it has Audi premium quality at an entry level price – €15,800 (around $20,000). Of course, with options, it will be higher; but if you could get a fully-tricked out Audi A1 for $30,000, Audi is afraid you aren’t going to buy its much more profitable A3 or A4 lines. I guess the A1 is good enough for the rest of the world, but not the for US where they want to continue to milk us for the most money possible. It also may be that parent Volkswagen doesn’t want an Audi pushing into its own territory. Then there is the old canard floated by the Germans about the dreaded “brand dilution.” (One of the most notorious examples of this suicidal act is when, in 1981, Cadillac introduced the Cimarron, a rebadged Chevrolet Cavalier. WORST CADILLAC EVER!). From all reports, the A1 doesn’t dilute the Audi brand and, in fact, upholds its hallmarks of a fantastic interior coupled with excellent engineering.
Audi produced a fantastic 6-part short film to promote the new A1. It stars Justin Timberlake and Dania Ramirez (the super-hot Latina who plays Turtle’s girlfriend on the latest season of Entourage). The production values are first rate as is the check Audi had to write to hire Timberlake for this video. It’s entirely shot in Los Angeles, which makes it all more ironic that Audi has no plans to sell the car here. Check out Episode 2 for a hot chase scene in Downtown LA. If you like it, go to YouTube and check out all six installments of the movie. Then write Audi and complain that they aren’t going to bring it to the US market!