Audi’s sales have been strong in recent years, and 2016 saw the brand’s best July to date. It marked their 67th straight monthly US sales record, beating July 2015’s already impressive 17,654 vehicle sales. July 2016 saw a 15% increase over last July, as well as a 22% increase for the entire year to date. In the face of a challenging US economy and faltering new car sales, Audi has managed to thrive.
One of the major drivers of Audi’s recent sales growth has been a renewed demand for SUVs among American consumers. The current decade has largely been defined by historically high gas prices, and intuitively, it would seem that SUVs would become a thing of the past. However, recent developments in the first half of 2016 have led to a renewed growth in the market for fuel-intensive vehicles like SUVs and pickups.
This trend is partly due to relatively low gas prices. Many of us remember the golden days of the 1990s and early 2000s, when gas was less than a dollar per gallon. By that standard, today’s prices are still sky-high. However, 2016 has actually seen a drop in gas prices. At one point, the price of oil per barrel had plummeted almost 70% from the price in the summer of 2014. Although the economic ramifications of this steep decline in cost are uncertain, it’s certainly a boon for American motorists.
From 2008 to about 2014, high gas prices seemed to have knocked SUVs out of the limelight. In the late 90s and early 2000s, they were a common sight in suburbia, a spacious option for families with kids. But as gas prices exploded to historic highs, driving an SUV wasn’t always sustainable, even for the well-to-do tax bracket that comprises the U.S. luxury vehicle market. With gas at $4 per gallon, even wealthy consumers thought twice about buying a type of vehicle known for its relatively poor gas mileage.
But with the drop in gas prices in 2015-2016 has come a renewed interest in SUVs, and this is especially evident in the luxury SUV market. Audi’s SUV offerings have been a major driver of the brand’s recent sales success, and rivals like BMW and Mercedes have seen similar sales trends.
According to Mark Del Rosso, Audi of America’s Executive VP and COO, credits a robust dealer network as a major factor in the recent sales records. The successful launch of several new products this year has reinforced the brand’s strong sales, despite an increasingly tight market for luxury vehicles.
Another factor is Audi’s history of strong branding. Like rivals Mercedes and BMW, the Audi name is a cultural signifier of economic success, social status, and refined taste. Owning an Audi is desirable, and a combination of quality design and smart marketing have helped maintain the brand’s elite positioning as a status item.
Audi’s growing sales show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Throughout 2016, each month has seen a brand new sales record. This trend is expected to continue into the near future, as Audi continues to lead the way in quality, luxury, and widespread market appeal.