Reducing delivery times to the US that are currently too high is one of the reasons behind Audi’s plans to build an assembly plant in North America. The company is also considering the addition of an engine and transmission plant in the country, which could be shared with VW, to overcome difficulties in finding subassembly provision.
One of the reasons that Audi has previously ruled out a manufacturing base in the US was because of the problems it had finding parts suppliers that could build components and subassemblies in North America.
According to CEO Rupert Stadler, delivery times to the US are too high, with dealers there demanding more vehicles than the company can deliver.
A spokesman for Audi of America told Automotive Logistics News that it was too early to talk about the plans in detail as no decision had been made, but he quoted comments made by Stadler this week in which he said it was “a case of when, not if.”
He also pointed to comments from Volkwagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn who said that, while decisions on the plant have yet to be made, “very intensive discussions” to that end were ongoing.
In the meantime, however, Audi plans to increase sales in the US this year by as much as 20%, raising the question as to how it plans to meet this demand.
The company continues to struggle with some of the inventory issues that it has faced since last year. In the second half of 2010 it was forced to bring in an additional 5,000 vehicles from other global markets to meet demand, including priority movements from Europe.
The company obtained 48,000 units from Germany in the first half of 2010 but was short in almost all of its brand lines in the US by the second half.  The company said then that it began 2011 under supplied, particularly in models such as the Audi Q5 and Audi Q7 TDI.
The problem wasn’t helped by the shortages in the availability of trucks to carry the vehicles from its ports and railheads given the impact of the recession on trucking companies. At the beginning of July last year the German-based carmaker had just a 21-day supply of vehicles.
This has not changed since then, but in the meantime Audi has pushed US sales by 15.4% to 55,909 cars in the first half of this year. The brand’s new flagship model, the A8, has been well received there according to the company and its SUVs have gained considerable ground. Sales of the Q5 were up 14.2%, with the Q7 registering a significant 41.2% rise in sales.