Significant increase in sales the goal for 2005
Audi posted excellent figures in 2004 for revenue, profit, production and vehicle sales. "Audi held its ground on the global automotive market and continued the success story of previous years. This year we will be looking to build on this and significantly increase sales," said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, at the Annual Press Conference in Ingolstadt today, with reference to the past and current financial years. "We have made a dynamic start to the year 2005 and the level of orders received is well above our expectations," continued Winterkorn.
Rise in revenue, profit before and after tax
The revenue generated by the Audi Group was up by 4.7 percent in 2004 to EUR 24.5 billion. The profit before tax rose by 3.7 percent to EUR 1,142 million. Profit after tax improved by 7.4 percent to a record level of EUR 871 million. "We were able to reap the first benefits of our successful process and cost optimisation measures," stressed Rupert Stadler, Board Member for Finance. Despite unfavourable exchange rate factors and the difficult market situation, Audi demonstrated high earning power in the past financial year and consequently also initiated a positive turnaround for profit before tax.
Capital investments increased
Total investments in 2004 increased compared with the previous year by 0.4 percent to EUR 2,056 million. The Audi Group intends to maintain the high level of capital investments of recent years in the future.
Within the scope of the company's mid-term investment plans from 2005 to 2009, funds totalling EUR 12.6 billion have been earmarked within the Audi Group. "Over 70 percent of capital investments will be for new products. This high proportion already reflects the plans to broaden the Audi model range quite substantially. Over the next few years, the company will not only be launching fundamentally new models on the market, but we will also be unveiling additional derivatives in existing model series," explained Stadler.
Audi increases its vehicle sales to a new record level for the eleventh year in succession
The Audi brand set a new sales record in 2004 for the eleventh year in succession: by 1.2 percent to 779,441 vehicles worldwide. Best-ever figures were recorded in 21 of the 50 or so largest sales markets. The top growth regions include Eastern Europe (up 19.3 percent), Africa (up 17.2 percent) and the Middle East sales region (up 58.5 percent).
Audi boosted sales in Western Europe (including Germany) by 2.1 percent to 559,428 cars. In Germany, despite weak domestic demand and model changeovers in its core Audi A3, A4 and A6 model lines, Audi sold a total of 235,092 cars (down 1.1 percent). One of the individual markets with the highest growth rate is Great Britain, where Audi sales have more than doubled in just seven years. This market expanded by 11.1 percent to 77,882 units in 2004 alone. Spain (up 6.4 percent to 43,764 cars) and Belgium (up 11.9 percent to 21,509 cars) also recorded above-average sales increases.
The USA remains the biggest export market with sales of 77,917 cars (down 9.8 percent). China set a new sales record of 64,018 units (up 0.8 percent), while Japan increased its total by 4.7 percent to 13,751 cars.
Lamborghini also enjoyed a further marked rise in vehicle sales in 2004, by 22 percent to 1,592 sports cars (2003: 1,305).
Vehicle and engine production at a record level
Car production (including Lamborghini) rose by 3.1 percent in 2004 to a record level of 784,972 units. One year before quattro drive celebrates its 25th anniversary, the proportion of Audi vehicles fitted with permanent four-wheel drive reached 26.7 percent.
Engine production was up by 10.6 percent to 1,485,536 units.
Number of apprentices at the highest level ever
The number of employees in the Audi Group as at 31.12.2004 rose to a total of 53,089 (31.12.2003: 52,856). There were 44,972 (44,714) employees at AUDI AG, 5,074 (5,014) at AUDI HUNGARIA MOTOR Kft., 721 (762) at the Lamborghini Group and 774 (714) at AUTOGERMA S.p.A. With 2,181 apprentices in 20 professions (as at 31.12.2004), the number of apprentices at the Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm plants reached the highest level ever in company history (31.12.2003: 2,077).
Outlook for 2005: growth strategy
"Our overriding priority is to ensure the continuing and long-term success of Audi as a premium brand. Following the introduction of new models - the Audi A4 saloon and Avant, the A6, the A3 Sportback and the 12-cylinder A8 - in important car lines last year, we now have the youngest fleet of models in the premium segment. We will be continuing our model drive in 2005.
By tapping new markets and exhausting existing potential more effectively, in Asia, the USA and Eastern Europe for instance, we will increase our vehicle sales significantly this year," explained Winterkorn. "We want to reach the one million mark by 2008."
For 2005, Winterkorn also announced a further increase in production flexibility and a continuation of the company's successful management aimed at increasing performance and optimising costs. Winterkorn: "We will invest further and with undiminished intensity in developing additional, attractive models, and further raise our brand profile by accentuating the brand values of sportiness and sophistication. Examples of this include the Audi RS 4 and the Q7."