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"With our attractive products we will continue to further consolidate our position in the markets in 2000. This also applies to what is currently a very difficult German market." These were the words of the Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, at today's 111th Annual General Meeting in Neckarsulm.
"Especially our new models, the A2 and the allroad quattro, emphasise once again the brand claim to 'Vorsprung durch Technik'," explained Paefgen to the shareholders. These two new vehicle concepts demonstrate how Audi is capable of applying its innovative prowess in order to overcome seeming contradictions. The company's key areas of expertise - TDI, aluminium lightweight design and quattro drive - play a particular part in this.
In 1999 Audi reported Group earnings before taxes of DM 1.640 billion (1998: DM 1.684 billion). The DVFA result per share, which is adjusted to eliminate one-off factors, was DM 21.89 (DM 19.18). Shareholders of AUDI AG received a compensatory payment of EUR 0.77 per individual share certificate. This payment is equivalent to the dividend payable on an individual Volkswagen share certificate. Group sales revenues last year totalled DM 29.624 billion (DM 27.222 billion). In 1999 Audi increased its vehicle sales worldwide by 5.9 percent to 634,973 units (including Lamborghini). Capital investments of DM 2.966 billion approximately matched the previous record, achieved in 1998 (DM 3.168 billion).
Based on an estimate for the first half of 2000, pre-tax earnings will be, according to Peter Abele, Member of the Board for Finance, "approximately on a par with the previous year's level" (first half of 1999: DM 806 million). Audi anticipates that vehicle sales worldwide (including Lamborghini) will rise by 7.1 percent to around 343,500 units. According to estimates, sales revenues will be up by 9.8 percent to approximately DM 15.8 billion. Capital investments will increase by 14.4 percent to around DM 1.2 billion.
The breakdown of Audi vehicle sales for major markets is as follows: approximately 124,800 Audi vehicles will have been sold in Germany by the end of June, 8.2 percent fewer than one year ago. However, Audi anticipates that its market share will increase again to 6.8 percent (first half of 1999: 6.7 percent).
In Western Europe (excluding Germany), Audi vehicle sales will reach a total of around 143,400 units by 30 June (up 7.6 percent), 40,100 (up 41.9 percent) in the USA, 3,500 (up 14.5 percent) in Japan and 31,600 (up 57.6 percent) in the rest of the world. Paefgen: "China has recorded very good sales figures since the market launch of the locally produced Audi A6." Sales there are expected to more than double to around 8,100 vehicles.
The number of cars produced (including Lamborghini) will rise in the first half of the year by approximately 4.3 percent to 328,300. Around 635,200 engines will have been manufactured by 30 June, 0.4 percent more than one year ago.
The number of employees in the Audi Group is estimated to be up to 48,263 employees as at 30 June, an increase of 6.1 percent on the previous year. Of this total, 29,286 work in Ingolstadt, 13,473 in Neckarsulm, 4,335 in Györ at AUDI HUNGARIA MOTOR Kft. and a total of 1,155 at Cosworth Technology Limited and the Lamborghini Group.
In addition, the Chairman of the Board of Management explained that Audi plans to increase its training capacity by around 40 percent from the year 2001 with the aid of a new organisation model. The idea is to achieve this increase without additional capital investments. Furthermore, new occupations will be introduced, such as "mechatronic" specialist, for example - a combination of industrial mechanic and industrial electrician.
Paefgen: "Our production plants are already operating at the limits of their capacity. And this capacity is increasingly being limited by the lack of suitably qualified workers. Our new training concept can provide a long-term solution to this problem." This solution will come about as a result of effective cooperation with employees' representatives and vocational colleges. The total number of apprenticeships will increase in the medium term from around 1,400 at the moment to some 2,000.
Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen also appeared confident that the weak development of the German market at present will not have any negative effect on Audi: "The important thing is that we have succeeded in further increasing our share of the German market in the first six months of the year." In this connection Paefgen referred in particular to the other markets which are developing positively at the moment, almost without exception. Audi is particularly successful in the USA. As Paefgen announced at the Annual General Meeting, Audi wishes to shape the future successfully with its innovative ideas. One good example of this is the A2, the market launch of which begins tomorrow in Germany.
Notes to editorial staff: A photo of A2 production at the Neckarsulm plant can be obtained through dpa (obs). The detailed interim report will be published at the beginning of August.
ots Originaltext: Audi AG
Corporate and Finance
Tel: +49 (0)841 89-36340, Mobile: +49 (0)172 9104468
Jürgen De Graeve,
Tel: +49 (0)841 89-34084, Mobile: +49 (0)172 9142908