Audi AG

Audi Annual Press Conference
1999: record vehicle sales and sales revenues

    Munich / Ingolstadt (ots) -

    - Cross-reference: photo was sent via satellite and is available

    * Earnings at the previous year's high level     * Successful start to the year 2000     * 20 years of quattro: Audi as a pioneer of four-wheel drive

    "1999 was a challenging but also a very successful year for Audi. A year in which key company figures reached a high level without exception, and in some cases their highest level to date." This is how Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, assessed the past financial year today at the Annual Press Conference in Munich.

    In his speech, Paefgen referred to the fact that, following "10 years of the TDI engine" in 1999, the Audi brand is celebrating another significant technical anniversary this year: exactly two decades ago Audi presented the first genuine on-road passenger car with permanent four-wheel drive under the name of "quattro". The new Audi allroad quattro unveiled at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show once again demonstrates Audi's pioneering role in the field of four-wheel drive. Audi will have built around one million cars with quattro driveline by the end of this year. As Paefgen remarked, quattro models currently account for around 30 percent of vehicle production.

    The sales revenues of the Audi Group* rose in 1999 by 8.8 percent to DM 29.624 billion (DM 27.222 billion). The Group's earnings before taxes amounted to DM 1.640 billion in the 1999 financial year, and therefore approximately matched the previous year's level (DM 1.684 billion). The net earnings of the Group increased in 1999 by 36.9 percent to DM 634 million (DM 463 million). The sales return before taxes for 1999 reached 5.5 percent (6.2 percent).

    Capital investments in 1999 totalled DM 2.966 billion and were therefore approximately level with the record figure of 1998 (DM 3.168 billion). "With an investment ratio still at around 10 percent of sales revenues, the focus is on strengthening our model range," commented Peter Abele, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Finance. Audi is to continue its intensive investment activity.

    * The subsidiaries COSWORTH TECHNOLOGY LIMITED and the Lamborghini Group are included in the Audi consolidated financial statements for the first time in 1999.

    Record vehicles sales worldwide

    In 1999, Audi increased its worldwide vehicle sales by 5.9 percent to the new record figure of 634,973 units (including Lamborghini). 257,642 units were sold in Germany (up 5.5 percent). The market share here was 6.8 percent (1998: 6.5 percent). Vehicle sales in Western Europe (excluding Germany) rose by 1.8 percent to 261,499 units. The leading European export market was Italy where 44,142 vehicles were sold, followed by Great Britain with 40,285 units. The market share in Western Europe was 3.4 percent, the same as in 1998. Vehicle sales on the US market rose by 38.8 percent to 65,959 units. 43,179 vehicles were sold on other markets, an increase of 2.2 percent on 1998, including 6,911 in China (down 8.8 percent).

    Sales of the Lamborghini brand developed positively: 265 Diablo models were sold in 1999, an increase of 24.4 percent compared with the previous year.

    Car production by the Audi Group rose by 1.1 percent to 626,059 units. A total of 1,266,896 engines were manufactured in Ingolstadt, at AUDI HUNGARIA MOTOR Kft. in Györ, at Lamborghini and at Cosworth Technology, 2.1 percent more than in 1998.

    Compared with the figure at the end of 1998, the number of employees at the  Audi Group increased by 9.9 percent to 46,558 as at 31 December 1999, and by 5.6 percent to 41,140 employees at AUDI AG. Of total Group employees, 28,426 worked in Ingolstadt (up 5.5 percent), 12,714 in Neckarsulm (up 6.0 percent), 4,312 at AUDI HUNGARIA MOTOR Kft. (up 25.9 percent), 711 at COSWORTH TECHNOLOGY LIMITED and 380 at Lamborghini.

    Vehicle sales still on the increase in the first quarter of 2000

    Sales at the end of the first quarter of 2000( are expected to reach about 163,400 Audi vehicles. This is equivalent to an increase of 12.1 percent. In Germany, despite a reduction in the market as a whole, sales by the end of March are expected to remain at the previous year's level, at around 61,400 cars. The market share in Germany is expected to rise slightly in the first quarter to 6.5 percent. In Western Europe (excluding Germany) Audi will sell around 68,200 vehicles, 10.6 percent more than in the first three months of 1999.

    Great Britain will take over as Audi's leading European export market in the first quarter, with sales of around 12,200 vehicles. This figure is up 17.4 percent on the previous year. Sales of Audi vehicles in Italy will total 10,500 units, an increase of 4.1 percent on the previous year. As things stand at the moment, sales in Spain are expected to rise by 2.8 percent compared with 1999, to 10,600 units. Around 18,300 Audi cars will have been sold in the USA by the end of the first quarter, an increase of 59.7 percent.

    * provisional figures for first quarter of 2000 compared with first quarter of 1999  

    Sales on other markets are expected to increase by approximately 44.3 percent to 13,700 cars. Of this total, around 3,000 vehicles will be sold in China, 58.6 percent more than in the previous year. The reason for this is the successful market launch of the A6 built in Changchun.

    Car production in the months January to March will rise by 12.5 percent to 165,165 units. A total of around 333,065 engines will have been manufactured by the end of March. This represents an increase of 7.3 percent on the same period last year.

    Sales revenues will reach around DM 8.1 billion, bettering the figure for the first quarter of 1999 by an estimated 21.8 percent. Capital investments will be up by 29.4 percent to DM 709 million (first quarter of 1999: DM 548 million).

    The number of employees as at 31 March will be up on the previous year - by 6.4 percent to 47,383 employees in the Group, by 4.4 percent to 41,595 at Audi AG. Of the Group total 28,605 people will be employed in Ingolstadt (up 3.2 percent), 12,990 in Neckarsulm (up 7.2 percent) and 4,590 in Györ (up 23.1 percent).

    Paefgen: Good start to 2000, strong market position is our goal

    "Our key markets are developing extremely positively at the moment - the situation on the German market is unclear. We therefore have to be cautious with our forecast for the whole of the year 2000. We can, however, be satisfied with the start we have made to the new year. We expect vehicle sales and sales revenues for the whole of the year to be at a high and stable level."  This is the prediction made by the Audi Chairman of the Board of Management, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen. "Our strategic goal is not to make short-term profits, but to strengthen the brand further and to improve our market position. Our two new models, the A2 and the allroad quattro, among other things, will have a major role to play in this."

Notes to editorial staff: * Photos of A2 production (Neckarsulm) are available through obs (dpa). * The pictures in the press folder can be found at ; password from ++49 841 89 33869 (Josef Schlossmacher). * For Betacam footage on the press conference, call ++49 89 9609453 * Radio interviews can be arranged by calling ++49 171 8853742 (Monika Czechmeister).

ots Originaltext:

Communication - Corporate and Economic Affairs
Joachim Cordshagen, Tel: ++49 841 89 36340 or ++49 172 910 44 68
Jürgen De Graeve, Tel: ++49 841 89 34084 or ++49 172 914 29 08

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