Audi CEO Stadler at Annual General Meeting: “Clear ambition to take first place”
The Audi Group is systematically continuing along its path of global growth. In the year to date, the company has already delivered more than 560,000 automobiles to its customers. In order to satisfy demand for the cars with the Four Rings, Audi is operating with special shifts. This year alone, the premium brand intends to launch 17 new models and derivatives on the market. At the same time, the Ingolstadt-based company is pressing ahead with the biggest investment program in its history: By 2018, approximately €22 billion is to flow into the development of new models and technologies and the expansion of international manufacturing structures. Despite the high levels of advance expenditure, the Audi Group aims to achieve an operating return on sales within its strategic target corridor of eight to ten percent. This year alone, the company intends to recruit 2,000 new experts and 750 apprentices in Germany.
At the 125th Annual General Meeting of AUDI AG, the company today informed its shareholders about all the key metrics of the past financial year and the strong performance of the brand with the Four Rings. In his speech at the headquarters in Ingolstadt, Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, emphasized the strategic goal of the automobile manufacturer until 2020: “We are tackling our tasks with a highly motivated team, with the clear ambition to be the number one.”
The current delivery numbers are evidence of the company’s success. In the first four months of this year, approximately 561,900 customers decided to buy an Audi (2013: 502,989). This represents an increase of 11.7 percent. Since January, Audi has made progress over the prior-year period not only with the Q3 compact SUV and the new A3 family, but also with full-sized automobiles such as the A6, A7, Q7 and A8. The brand with the Four Rings intends to launch a total of 17 new models and derivatives on the market in 2014, and thus to continue its growth in all regions of the world. Audi CEO Stadler explained to more than 600 shareholders and guests at the Annual General Meeting: “We are starting the second stage of our model offensive this year.” The automobile manufacturer is therefore stepping up the pace of investment.
In order to continue its “Vorsprung durch Technik,” Audi will invest approximately €22 billion in new models and technologies and in the expansion of its international manufacturing structures by 2018. The company has set aside 70 percent of the biggest investment program in its history for the expansion and modernization of its model range and its technology and innovation portfolio. “Despite intensive advance expenditure for the future of our company, we intend to achieve an operating return on sales within our strategic target corridor of eight to ten percent,” stated Axel Strotbek, Member of the Board of Management for Finance and Organization, at the Annual General Meeting. With this robust level of profitability, Audi is also creating the basis for further growth in the coming years.
Audi already performed well with sound key figures in the past financial year, despite the challenging market environment in Europe. Worldwide, the brand with the Four Rings delivered 1,575,480 automobiles of the Audi brand – an increase of 8.3 percent (2012: 1,455,123). The Audi Group increased its revenue to €49,880 million (2012: €48,771 million). Despite negative exchange-rate effects, this represents growth of 2.3 percent. Operating profit of €5,030 million was slightly lower than in the previous year (2012: €5,365 million). Despite rising development expenditure for new products and technologies as well as intensive advance expenditure for the expansion of the international production network, the company achieved an operating return on sales of 10.1 percent (2012: 11.0 percent).
Trevor Hill of Audi Middle East also commented on the performance in the region saying: “We’ve seen a strong growth in the automotive sector here in the Middle East and in 2013, Audi Middle East had a record year with sales of over 10,600 and a 16.3% growth, which was a phenomenal achievement, especially in the premium sector. We anticipate further growth in 2014 to over 12,000 cars.”
At the Annual General Meeting, the Audi Board of Management thanked all the employees for their great commitment and innovative skills. For the past financial year, AUDI AG will arrange for the employees to participate in the company’s success. The employees at the sites in Germany will therefore receive an average profit-sharing bonus of €6,900. In addition, the company will continue to recruit in 2014. “Audi’s international growth path will create new jobs also in Germany,” pointed out Thomas Sigi, Member of the Board of Management for Human Resources. More than 2,000 additional experts are to work above all in the competence areas of lightweight construction, connectivity and electric mobility, and will help with the development of new plants. Furthermore, 750 young people will commence their occupational training at the sites in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm. Production is also running at full speed: At the two sites in Germany, the employees will work 74 special shifts from January until June, in order to satisfy demand for models of the Audi brand.
In the Middle East, Audi are also committed to investing in people. Since launching in 2005 with only 17 people in the UAE, the team has now grown to over 100 staff with a network of dealers that covers the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwait.
The Audi Group intends to grow in all regions of the world in 2014. The brand with the Four Rings anticipates a slight increase in revenue to more than €50 billion. The systematic expansion of international manufacturing structures, increasing advance expenditure for new models and technologies – especially to comply with increasingly strict CO2 regulations worldwide– will at first have a negative impact on earnings this year. At the same time, the growth in unit sales and the continuous improvements in productivity and processes that have already been initiated will provide positive impetus for the development of operating profit. In total, the Ingolstadt company expects to achieve an operating return on sales within its strategic target corridor of eight to ten percent.