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Audi Experiences Sudden Fall in U.S. Luxury Vehicle Sales for a Surprising Reason

Sales Shortage

Volkswagen Group’s luxury arm, Audi, sometime last month posted about a 16% sales decline it recorded in December as compared with its record for one year earlier. The decline according to the post came after the company’s experience with supply issues. Mark Dahncke, a spokesperson for the luxury arm noted that the shortage in the U.S. affected its sedans, i.e., its three best sellers namely, A3, the A4, and A5.

According to the brand, the constraints were caused by delays in the submission of vehicles for certification by environmental regulators in the U.S. The delays were reportedly caused by the failure of Audi to get a fast approval from the European regulators after their imposition of new standards called Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure.

According to an Audi spokesperson, the constraints were caused by delays in the submission of vehicles for certification by environmental regulators in the U.S.

Competitive Industry

Audi isn’t the only automaker that has had issues getting the certification in Europe under these new and stricter standards.

It is pertinent to add that the current shortages are coming at a time when the sale of sedans is generally ailing all through the industry. Last year December, the A3, the A4, and the A5 posted declines in sales of 61%, 56%, and 41% respectively. Dahncke stated that the shortages would not be rectified until later in the month.

The current shortages are coming at a time when the sale of sedans is generally ailing all through the industry

WLTP which caused the delay was designed specifically to reduce the emissions and also aimed at achieving a more accurate gauge of vehicles’ road performances. The procedures were implemented after the Audi diesel vehicle emissions scandal, as well as some other issues, put Europe in the spotlight for a need to have stronger standards in place for the protection of the environment and the public health generally.

Other Automakers Experiencing Difficulties

At the moment, Audi is not the only automaker that has been experiencing difficulties with certification. However, this is coming at a bad time for the company. Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW have for the last couple of years been in a major competition to get the spot for the top sales by a luxury brand in the US. This shortage has succeeded in pulling Audi out of the race. Currently, it is majorly between Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW have for the last couple of years been in a major competition to get the spot for the top sales by a luxury brand in the US

According to a spokesperson of Audi, these vehicle shortages would not be rectified till later this month. However, the WLTP standards came up majority as a result of Dieselgate fallout. Asides from the A3, the A4, and the A5, sources report that there is no other model of the automaker experiencing shortage at the moment.

Unlike Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Audi doesn’t have a production plant in the U.S. So even when it sorts out the WLTP issues, it would still have to account for transportation time. That appears to be a big deal, and the automaker is aware that it has continued to record losses of income.

WLTP Tests

The WLTP standards are used under conditions that are defined by the European Union law for the measurement of fuel consumption as well as C02 emissions released from the passenger vehicles. Also, the standards test the pollutant emissions of the vehicles. The driving cycle of WLTP is broken down into four different parts that have varying average speeds. The speed includes low speed, medium speed, high speed and lastly extra high speed.

Each of these parts is made up of different driving phases, acceleration, braking and stops phases. For a particular vehicle type, each of the powertrain configurations gets tested with the procedure for the vehicle’s lightest and most economical as well as its heaviest and least economical version.

The procedures were developed with a primary objective that it would be utilized as the global test cycle all around the world so that fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, and pollutants would actually be comparable.  However, while this WLTP has this common global outlook, the EU, as well as other regions, would apply the test in diverse ways based on their specific road traffic laws as well as their needs.

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