2011 Audi Q5

2011 Audi Q5

Talk of Audi’s North American production plans date back several years and reached a high point last year when the automaker’s CEO Rupert Stadler revealed to German media that a new plant will likely be established in Mexico for the manufacture of the mid-sized Q5.

Audi officials have now confirmed to Ward’s Auto that the green light has been given for a North American plant, though they stress that no final decision has been made on its location but Mexico is still at the top of the list.

One official, Audi’s U.S. chief Johan de Nysschen explained “It’s not a matter of if we will do a plant in North America, but when”.

Note, Audi’s parent company Volkswagen has a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which currently builds the U.S.-spec Passat. Volkswagen also has plants in Mexico like the one building the Beetle. Audi is unlikely to use these, however.

“Our Volkswagen colleagues have got ambitions of their own in terms of developing the business here, and the Chattanooga capacity will be required by the VW brand,” the Audi boss continued.

A number of foreign automakers are seriously considering starting production in North America to hedge against currency fluctuations as well as improve production and logistic efficiencies. On top of this, a plant in Mexico would also provide a launching pad for automakers into the burgeoning South American market, which many are predicting to be the next major emerging market after China and India.

Right now, according to de Nysschen, the decision on timing will depend on Audi’s performance in the U.S. He explained that the automaker will need to have one vehicle line at a volume of at least 100,000 units per year to make local production viable.