Despite the already noticeable effects of the financial crisis, Audi Group ended the 2008 fiscal year with yet more record-breaking figures for production, vehicle deliveries, revenue and profit: "With our 13th successive deliveries record, 2008 was the most successful fiscal year in the history of our company. These positive effects make it easier for us to respond appropriately to the crisis," remarked Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, at the company's Annual Press Conference in Ingolstadt, Germany. "In the current year we have succeeded so far to increase our market share in the premium segment with an attractive model range," added Stadler.
With deliveries of Audis up 4.1% to the record total of 1,003,469 automobiles, revenue for fiscal 2008 also reached a new all-time high of 34,196 (33,617)* million, representing growth of 1.7%.
Operating profit improved by 2.5% to 2,772 (2,705) million. Net liquidity climbed by 18.2% to around 9.3 (7.9) billion.
Profit before tax reached another all-time high of 3,177 (2,915) million, representing growth of 9.0%. Profit after tax was 2,207 (1,692) million, a rise of 30.4%.
With a return on investment of 19.8% (18.6), the Audi Group was also able to improve on another important ratio. The disproportionately sharp rise in earnings compared with revenue is moreover reflected by the increase in the return on sales before tax from 8.7 to 9.3%. "This figure means the Audi Group is now one of the most profitable players in the international automotive industry, a particular advantage in a year in which the repercussions of the financial crisis were already very noticeable," explained Axel Strotbek, Member of the Board of Management for Finance and Organization.
This success has been made possible by the newest and most attractive model range in the premium segment of the market. The new Audi A4, which also appeared on the market in an Avant version in April 2008, was particularly successful. Other updated products such as the A3 and A6, as well as the brand new Q5, also contributed towards the rise in profit.
"We will continue in 2009 to invest heavily in new products, future-proof technologies and growth markets," said Strotbek. "We will counter the negative impacts of shrinking sales caused by the global economic crisis through consistent spending and investment, and continuous process optimization," explained Strotbek.
Audi delivered 1,003,469 (964,151) cars to customers in the past year. Sales were thus 4.1% up on the previous year. The outstanding figures also brought record-breaking market shares in Western Europe and Germany.
In an overall market again characterized by falling sales, Audi delivered 258,111 (254,014, up 1.6%) cars to customers in Germany. With a record market share of 8.1% in its crucial home market, the company achieved the best level in its history as a premium manufacturer.
Outside Germany, too, Audi strengthened its position as a premium brand: In Western Europe the brand set another record for vehicle deliveries of 666,984 (650,407, up 2.5%) units. Great Britain, the largest market in the region after Germany, grew to 101,522 cars (100,712, up 0.8%). Audi also achieved substantial growth in France. The brand was able to deliver 51,200 vehicles to customers in its neighboring country (47,540, up 7.7%). The expanding market in Eastern Europe performed extremely well. Vehicle deliveries in this region rose by 18.4% to 42,693 (36,073) automobiles.
The biggest single export market in 2008 was again China (including Hong Kong), with 119,598 cars delivered (101,996, up 17%). Its success is moreover reflected in the satisfaction rankings. In the JD Power customer satisfaction poll, the carmaker has enjoyed a top three place in China in each of the past five years.
The market performance in India, where Audi started CKD assembly operations at the end of 2007, was also very positive. Deliveries to customers there tripled to 1,050 (349) cars.
In the United States, on the other hand, the number of vehicles delivered to customers fell to 87,760 (93,506, down 6.1%) automobiles in a sharply contracting market. By contrast, the brand's share of the premium market grew to 7.1 (6.2)%.
The subsidiary Lamborghini increased deliveries of its supercars to 2,430 (2,406, up 1.0%) in the past fiscal year.
The Audi Group built 1,029,041 cars (including Lamborghini). This represented a new production record for Audi (980,880, up 4.9%). The Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm locations accounted for around 83% of total car output. Engine production within the Audi Group dipped slightly to 1,901,760 units (1,915,633, down 0.7%).
Audi invests around 2 billion each year, largely in new products. It is continuing with its model initiative as planned. Over the next seven years the car manufacturer will be increasing its vehicle range from the current 28 models to 40.
Audi is again passing on a share of the company's success to its employees this year. 230 million (222 million) will be paid out to employees in 2009. The profit share will average around 5,300 per employee.
"Dedicated, highly qualified employees are the basis for Audi's future success. That is why, unlike our competitors, we will not be imposing a freeze on recruitment in 2009. We will be looking for up to 300 new experts, mainly engineers, and are convinced that this counter-cyclical approach will pay dividends in the future," explained Stadler. As well as maintaining apprenticeship places at around 700, Audi will be recruiting an extra 40 apprentices in 2009.
The number of employees within the Audi Group rose to an annual average of 57,533 (53,347). Of these, 46,089 (44,698) were employed at Audi AG, including 32,603 (31,369) at Ingolstadt and 13,486 (13,329) at Neckarsulm.
*(prior-year figure in parentheses)