The Volkswagen subsidiary Audi made record profits last year, but is cautious about the outlook for the current year. Thanks to full order books, sales figures and sales should increase significantly, but the profit margin should fall, said CFO Jürgen Rittersberger on Thursday in Ingolstadt. Higher material, raw material and labor costs and a falling share of profitable luxury vehicles in sales caused headwind.

Audi is aiming for an increase in deliveries to 1.8 to 1.9 million cars and sales to 69 to 72 billion euros. However, the return on sales is likely to fall from 12.2 percent to 9 to 11 percent. The operating result, which rose by 40 percent to a record 7.55 billion last year, should therefore end up between 6.2 and 7.9 billion euros.

Long waiting times

Buyers currently have to wait almost a year for a newly ordered Audi. Last year, the company delivered just 1.6 million cars – fewer than in 2013. But thanks to high prices, the high proportion of expensive vehicles and the first-time inclusion of luxury carmaker Bentley in Audi’s balance sheet, sales rose by 16 percent to the record value of 61.75 billion euros.

CEO Markus Duesmann is concerned about sales of his electric cars in China, the largest market: electrification in the premium segment there is accelerating, but Audi’s sales “didn’t satisfy us,” he said. Total sales in China fell 8 percent to 647,000 cars. Audi had “a rather bumpy start” there in January, but things went better in February, said Rittersberger. He estimated the earnings contribution of the Audis built in China at 1.2 billion euros. Duesmann has great hopes for Audi’s new e-car factory in Changchun, which is set to build cars on the new PPE luxury-class electric platform from 2024.

The Bentley, Lamborghini and Ducati brands included in the Audi balance sheet contributed 1.4 billion euros to the operating result. Commodity hedging transactions accounted for another 0.8 billion. The bottom line is that the VW subsidiary made a record profit of 7.12 billion euros after taxes.

Profit sharing for employees

Around 55,000 Audi employees in Germany are to receive a profit-sharing scheme. For a skilled worker, it amounts to a good 8,500 euros, the company said.

Globally, e-cars account for just 7 percent of Audi sales. In contrast to the pioneer BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Duesmann did not name a target for Audi for the current year. In the fall, Audi plans to launch the Q6-etron, the first vehicle across the Group on the new luxury-class electric platform PPE, which Audi developed together with Porsche. The Q6-etron will be the first electric car from the main plant in Ingolstadt.

Audi will also offer a fully electric entry-level model below the Q4-etron, which costs a good 50,000 euros, said Duesmann. The CEO left open whether, as requested by the works council, the successor to the A3 will be built in Ingolstadt and when. For the period up to the end of 2025, he announced a total of 20 new Audi models, half of them fully electric.

It is unclear whether Audi will build a plant in the USA. “We’ll decide that later this year,” said Duesmann. In the USA, Audi sales fell to 187,000 cars last year, almost 12 percent of global sales. Volkswagen has just announced a new plant in South Carolina for the group, in which Scout pickups are to be built.