A Price Too High? Sticker Shock Could Keep Audi A1 Sales Low

Audi's new A1 premium subcompact hatchback has been kept from U.S. customers on the grounds of a high MSRP for a rather small vehicle - a concept that Audi believes Americans won't take to. Still, Europeans seem to be finding the A1 a tough pill to swallow as well.

According to a recent Automotive News report, citing its German sister publication Automobilwoche, Audi is denying that the A1's price is keeping it from customer's garages.

"The A1 is enjoying considerable success: The company stands by the estimate made at the time of the car's launch that around 50,000 units will be built by the end of 2010 and 30,000 of them delivered to customers," an Audi spokesman told the German publication.

Still, according to Automobilwoche, only 20,000 A1s have been sold to date since the car's launch in August. That leaves one month to deliver an additional 10,000 cars and a surplus of 20,000 cars beyond that. The Audi A1's starting price is 15,800 euros in Germany, which equates to approximately $20,873 for an entry-level model. The vehicle's primary competition in both size and performance is the BMW-built Mini Cooper.

"Audi is simply asking too much money for a small premium car," said one Metzler bank analyst to Automobilwoche.

A German Audi dealer agreed, telling the publication that Audi's pricing strategy is not in line with the younger people the car is attempting to target.

"For them, it is simply too expensive," the dealer said.

Automobilwoche was told by German dealers that Audi could attempt to bolster sales by offering a five-door version of the car next year, ahead of the scheduled 2012 launch. Currently, only a three-door hatchback configuration is available.

While Audi has ruled out all chances of the current-generation A1 subcompact arriving in the U.S., it has left the door open for the possible export of the next-generation vehicle. Meanwhile, A1 sales, originally intended just for Europe, have been expanded to other parts of the world.

What price does Audi need to hit to make the next-generation A1 a success in the U.S.?

Source: Automobilwoche via Automotive News (Subscription required)

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