[ba] (no subject)

Ti Kan ti at amb.org
Sat Aug 25 00:20:03 EDT 2001

Kevyn Shortell writes:
> OK, I'm going to date myself here, but I wasn't old enough to drive. so
> could you explain to me the situtation of Audi's in the early 80s? =)

In the early 80s, there was no problem.  In fact, with the launch of
the revolutionary aerodynamic 1984 5000, Audi sales reached a high of
over 74 thousand cars sold in the US that year, a record that was only
exceeded last year.

It wasn't until 1986 when the "unintended acceleration" hoopla of the
5000 automatic models occurred, fueled by a grossly unfair and rigged
episode of "60 Minutes" on CBS.  Independent investigations as well as
Audi's own showed no fault of the car.  Nevertheless Audi issued a massive
recall and retrofitted shift lock devices to the automatic models to make
sure driver error cannot occur when shifting from Park to any drive gear.

Audi was eventually exonerated by the Feds and the stated cause was indeed
driver error (the official terminology was "pedal misapplication" to be
politically correct).  But US sales nevertheless plummeted to a low of only
around 11 thousand cars in 1991.  The unintended acceleration farce had
a lot to do with it, but Audi was also being squeezed by the introduction
of other competitive car lines like Lexus, Infinity and Acura, that are
priced more favorably.

There were rumors that Audi might pull out of the US market like what
had occurred to Alfa Romeo, Peugeot and Renault, but Ferdinand Piech
insisted that the US is the most important market and that they would

Sales continued to be weak until the mid 90s.  The turnaround came with
the introduction of the 1996 A4, not only are these cars a hit in
desirablity but were also priced to compete.  That success continued with
the launch of the 98 A6, with rapid growth ever since.

Audi's story in the late 90s up to now is a remarkable tale of a complete
transformation.  What was once an underdog ("Gee, don't those cars suddenly
accelerate and kill kids?") they are now once again regarded as a strong
contender in the premium car market.  Aside from the excellence of the cars;
Len Hunt, AoA's VP that took office in the late 90s had a lot to do with
the success.  His push to get AoA to be more involved in Motorsports (the
establishment of Audi Sport North America, and running in the ALMS and
Speedvision racing) as well as Audi's successes in these venues had raised
the public's awareness of Audi as a performance brand, and that is backed
up by the import of the widest array of models ever offered in the US,
including the S4, TT, allroad and S8, as well as the S6 Avant which will
reach these shores soon.

01 S4 2.7 biturbo quattro
84 5000S 2.1 turbo
80 4000 2.0
    ///  Ti Kan                Vorsprung durch Technik
   ///   AMB Research Laboratories, Sunnyvale, CA. USA
  ///    ti at amb.org
 //////  http://www.amb.org/ti/

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