The universal truth, according to German automakers, is this: American consumers don’t want station wagons. Instead, American buyers favor crossovers and SUVs, as these deliver a high seating position for better visibility, as well as a more rugged image.
Whether you agree or disagree with this position, Bloomberg
says that Audi will double its number of crossover offerings by 2020, in order to more effectively compete with market leader BMW. By 2018, IHS Automotive predicts that luxury SUV sales will grow by some 36-percent, making the segment seem even more attractive.
Driving this growth is an acceptance among luxury buyers that crossovers and SUVs are no longer blue-collar vehicles, especially when branded with an Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz logo.
Audi is hardly alone in upping its segment offerings, as BMW now offers the X1, X3 and X5 SUVs, as well as the X4 and X6 crossovers. To its G, GL, GLK and M Class SUVs and crossovers, Mercedes will soon introduce a new GLA compact model.
Today, Audi offers the Q5 and Q7 crossover in the United States, but these will soon be joined here by the Q3
. Over the next few years, expect to see Audi launch the Q2
(based on its Crosslane concept
), the Q4 and the Q6 crossovers
To increase the appeal of its crossovers, Audi is developing higher-performance models to match those available from rival brands. An SQ5
is expected here later in 2013, and Audi has just announced an RS Q3 crossover
that will debut in Geneva next month.
Ultimately, the question becomes how many SUV models are too many? While every luxury brand wants to gain incremental market share, profitability is usually determined by sales volume. It’s one thing to offer a unique product for each buyer, but it’s something else entirely to turn a profit on each product sold.