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Targeting Tesla? Audi's sales are on the rise and more electric cars are coming, but does the BMW rival plan to overtake Tesla in Australia?

Audi's sales have grown so far this year, with EV and SUVs making up the numbers, as well as the A3.

Audi is having a bumper year. Sales are up and the brand has much better supply than in 2022. But is Audi chasing competitors like BMW and even Tesla?

The German carmaker has had a very positive 2023 so far. To the end of July, Audi has sold 10,644 vehicles in Australia, which represents a 37.4 per cent increase on the same period in 2022.

While that overall sales figure trails its two biggest rivals - Mercedes-Benz (14,644) and BMW (14,414) - Audi has experienced greater sales growth than the pair of them. Mercedes is down by 13.5 per cent year on year, while BMW has only grown by 4.8 per cent.

Audi Australia Director, Jeff Mannering, said he welcomed the positive sales trajectory, but said there were still issues that are impacting deliveries.

“That percentage is great, but if you look at the first half of last year, there was not a lot of supply. So it's pretty pretty much the same for a lot of manufacturers. But we are on a steady path,” he said.

“There's still issues, not so much with supply now, but to go from a supply issue because of COVID and semiconductors, and then you get into logistics and clogged ports and it's hard work. Now the push is probably to be able to get cars to the dealers that are sitting on boats in the ocean.

“We push everything that we possibly can because we're a selling company of course, but it's still good and it's pretty stable and the dealers are happy.”

Mannering added that there was plenty of pent-up demand, but a lot of buyers stayed loyal to the brand, despite some having to wait up to 18 months for their new car delivery.

He also said Audi was not chasing the sort of sales volume Tesla is experiencing right now, and added that the brand was more focused on ensuring a positive customer experience, especially in the age of EVs.

“To be successful you don't have to sell the most cars. It's about the experience, like I won't talk harshly of anybody else, but they do sell a lot of cars,” he said.

“Now, I think in an EV, in particular, the education of the consumer … and the handover experience of an EV is completely different than an ICE car, you just don't throw the keys anymore and say, ‘off you go’.”

Mannering said Audi has a responsibility to guide buyers when they purchase an EV, and advise on home and public charging and to ensure they are comfortable with the tech.

But he reiterated that hitting the heights of Tesla - the American electric brand is currently sitting on 29,511 sales year to date and outselling mainstream manufacturers like Volkswagen and Subaru - is not on the cards.

“Now, are we chasing volume? No, we're not chasing volume. Of course, we need a certain volume to be profitable and for the dealers to be profitable. But from a brand point of view, if you get it right at the beginning, the loyalty is the thing that comes back. It's not so much the first car that's important. It's the second, third and fourth.”

While it trails Mercedes and BMW for sales so far this year, Audi is in front of a surging Lexus which is sitting on 8300 units (+85.6%), and Volvo on 6968 (+8.6%).

The biggest volume has come from Audi’s SUV range, with the Q3 (2789, +19.3%), Q5 (2630, +31.4%) and Q7 (1043, +63.2%) all up year on year. But the still fresh A3 hatch and sedan range is also pulling its weight, up 70.5% to 1640 units - more sales than the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (1551) could manage in the same period.

The remainder of 2023 will be on the quieter side for Audi in terms of new model launches, but 2024 is set to be a bumper year.

While these models are yet to be officially locked in, expect the long delayed but highly anticipated Q4 e-tron EV to finally launch in the first half of next year, while the yet-to-be revealed Q6 e-tron may sneak in at some point too.

As well as a new-generation Q5 at some point, a replacement for the long-running A4 sedan and wagon - which is expected to take the A5 moniker as Audi reserves even numbers for EV models - is also on the cards.