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Friday, April 1, 2016

Audi Won’t Sell the Q2 in the U.S. Because Brand Perception


Copyright © 2016 Bold Ride LLC.

Audi has made a-lot of decisions that I don’t like, ripping the superb S4 Avant from our grasp after the B7 generation for example. But even though their actions have angered me, I’ve been able to understand how they make sense from a business perspective.
 The S4 Avant was pulled from our shores because the majority of Americans lost interest in fast wagons, and the A4 Avant followed suit a few years later when Audi figured out they could lift it, add body cladding, revive the Allroad nameplate, and in doing so be able to increase the base price by a few thousand dollars.
 It’s this kind of thinking from the folks in Ingolstadt that has kept Audi growing, and successful in the United States.
But in the case of the Q2, I can’t make sense of what’s going on in their heads.


America has had a fever for the past few years, and the cure has been more crossovers. Well, they’re more of a band-aid, leading scientists say it’s too late for a cure to work, and the fever is more of a global thing, but that’s another discussion entirely. The point is that we’re cuck-coo for crossovers, big ones, small ones, expensive ones, moderately less expensive ones; the crossover craze is sweeping the nation like a K-Pop YouTube sensation.
Now that they can be bought with a lift kit, and some body cladding (see what you’ve done Subaru?!), people from every ad targeted demographic are interested in hatchbacks, and the proof is in the puddin, and by puddin, I mean sales figures.

GoodCarBadCar has SUV/Crossover sales for 2015 broken down so you can see just how much love crossovers are getting. The utility segment as a whole jumped up 16% over 2014, while non-SUV/crossover sales grew just 1%, a paltry increase of increase of 100,000 units. Traditional cars and minivans lost ground to the levithian that is the utility vehicle, and you can bet 2016 will be more of the same.


So, even with crossovers being a proven hit in the United States, Audi will not offer the Q2 on our fair shores, and I’m left wondering, what gives? Can they not see the hordes of wide eyed youths waiting for a vehicle like this to appear in the driveway on graduation day? What about all those active couples who see the Q3 as being too much, but it’s not like they’re going to slum it and get a Mazda CX-3 or something. Heavens no, they definitely need some kind of ruggedness for those trips to the R.E.I. parking lot, but refined ruggedness, the kind Audi is known for.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Q2 would be a huge hit here in the U.S., and maybe that’s what Audi is afraid of. Maybe Audi doesn’t care to offer anything in the sub-$30,000 range, after all, they seem to be doing just fine with their cheapest offering coming in at $30,900. Maybe they have it in their heads that a FWD sub-compa…err, excuse me, micro-crossover, might devalue the brand identity in America or maybe, just maybe, they’re going to bring the Q2 here in a year or two after it has proven itself in Europe.

I wouldn’t hold my breath though, something tells me I’m on the money with the brand identity devaluation theory.