VW to revamp Audi product range

C1J1Miller at aol.com C1J1Miller at aol.com
Tue Dec 10 13:01:25 EST 2002

VW to revamp Audi product range

Reuters / December 10, 2002
FRANKFURT -- The luxury Audi unit of Volkswagen said on Tuesday it planned to spend $11.5 billion in the next five years overhauling its product range.

Audi said its supervisory board had agreed to invest the sum, which would represent around seven percent of sales volumes, between 2002 and 2007. A good 70 percent of the investment would go into new products, the firm said.

Once the black sheep in the VW family, the Ingolstadt-based Audi unit is a key part of VW's brand strategy and generated about one-quarter of the parent group's profit last year.

Volkswagen, suffering from a low point in its product cycle, said last month it had lifted its long-term spending plans as it gets set to update key models and push annual output up to six million vehicles by 2007.

Audi is due to launch a version of its small A3 hatchback next year, and is also thought to be considering developing a so-called "cross-over" model, a cross between a luxury coupe and a sports utility vehicle.

An Audi spokesman also said on Tuesday the company was in talks with sportscar maker Maserati, an arm of Italy's stricken Fiat, about a possible technical cooperation. He declined to give any further details.

Maserati said in a statement it had been in talks with Audi "for some time... with a view to possible technical and commercial cooperation."

Italian newspapers La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera said on Tuesday Fiat was considering switching Alfa Romeo into its Ferrari-Maserati arm, and said Volkswagen was considering taking a 49 percent stake in the new luxury group.

A Volkswagen spokesman declined to comment.

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