At a time when General Motors and Chrysler are facing the reality of bankruptcy, Toyota is forecasting a multi-billion dollar loss, and most other carmakers are either shutting down plants or laying off workers, Audi has managed to post a record profit and its best ever sales figures. Both the U.S. and Japan are experiencing sales levels similar to those in the 1960s, but despite the challenges Audi sold a total 1,003,469 vehicles last year.

From this it earned more than €34 billion in revenue, up 4.1% on 2007’s levels, and in turn this lead to a profit before tax of €3.18 billion, a rise of 1.7% on the year before. It’s easy to see that Audi is extremely happy with the result - the company has announced that it will pay out more than €230 million to its 43,000 wage-scale employees at its German plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, with each worker entitled to a €5,300 bonus.

The biggest single export market in 2008 was again China (including Hong Kong), with 119,598 cars delivered. The news isn’t all peachy, however. In the U.S., the number of vehicles delivered to customers fell 6.1% on 2007’s levels to 87,760 units, and Audi is expecting an overall sales decline this year - the first in 14 years.

Even with the falling sales, the company believes it can maintain profitability through proper management of expenses. Audi’s operating margin of 8.1% is already nearly twice the 4.4% earned by Mercedes Benz and should be higher than that of BMW as well. The company also plans to expand its vehicle range to 40 models by 2015 from 28 now. This includes next year's planned launch of the tiny A1 model, as well as the Q3 compact SUV in 2011.