Nov. 8, 2007: Source – AutoWeek

Audi A1 Minicar

As the price of oil continues to sail upwards, the notion of smaller cars becomes more appealing to American buyers. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler is the latest auto executive to acknowledge this need in the U.S. market, and the vehicle he is thinking of is Audi’s new A1 mini-car. With the production version of the vehicle to arrive in late 2009, Stadler states, “There is absolutely a potential for this kind of vehicle in America.”

Despite the lackluster U.S. sales of Audi’s small 5-door hatchback, the A3, Stadler is steadfast in his thinking that the market will continue to shift, making room for Audi to vie for a piece of the upscale small car market in the U.S. “When A1 production begins in late 2009”, Stadler asserts, “the U.S. market could be ripe for a luxury car in the B segment.” The A1’s most direct competition would be the stylish and hip Mini Cooper, which is heavily targeted toward females and urban professional-types. These are people who want a status symbol, but also value the efficiency of a smaller car. It’s obviously too early to speculate on economy numbers for the A1, but as a point of reference, the Mini Cooper has an EPA rating of 22 city and 30 highway.

For the A1 to be a viable export to the U.S., Stadler cites low labor costs as the key. There’s also the idea of building the car on American soil, which could be possible with Volkswagen currently scouting sites for a U.S. assembly plant.

Moving even further to the greener side of motoring, Audi unveiled a hybrid-concept version of the luxury subcompact, the A1 Metroproject Quattro, at last month’s Tokyo show.

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