"We will continue to develop models that appeal to our more discerning customers. For example, we are currently considering the idea of an A4.3625, which will be slightly larger and more luxurious than an A4, feature two regular doors, two half-sized "suicide doors," an interior crafted of alligator skin, a 19-speaker, 1800-watt Harmin Cochlea sound system, and a sporty, steeply raked hatchback. In a sense, it's our answer to the Mazda RX-8. That question was not asked, so we must ask it. It is our near-term goal to accelerate this company, intentionally or otherwise, into the next century."
|42 Unique New Audi Concepts on Display Near London on Tuesday|
Mueller cited the need to enter this market segment after a single write-in questionnaire response indicated a 28-year-old unmarried male in Framingham, MA, with income between $25,000 and $34,999 would be "likely" to "very likely" to lease such a model in the next 18-24 months.
He continued, "For Audi, that's more than enough validation that a solid market exists for this vehicle."
Many critics ask whether Audi should focus more heavily on its core A4/6/8 car models, improving variety, content, and pricing to increase and maintain a competitive edge against worldwide rivals BMW and Mercedes. Several companies--notably GM--have been guilty of expanding product lines in an effort to gain segment market share, diluting the overall brand and reducing quality along the way.
"In Germany, we have a saying 'Eine Wurst, Funfzehn Groesse' (one sausage, 15 sizes). You see, BMW have an X3, so we must have a Q5. They have an X5; we must have a Q7. They have an M3 coupe; we must have an S5. They have a 1-series convertible, we must have a...Scheisse."
Mr. Mueller then ended the line of questioning abruptly, nervously shouting in German to a coworker in the Product Design group. His assistant later referred us to the product website for the Volkswagen Eos, asking us to imagine four rings on the grille.
When asked about the possibility of a diesel-powered wagon with manual transmission in the US, Mueller responded "We have heard this request from thousands of online forum users, but to date have not sold a single one to those people. We believe these requests to be a result of a single hacker using 'alt' identities to pump up interest in obscure, unprofitable vehicle configurations. Similarly, we will never offer a ute [car with truck bed], nor a vehicle where the model's numbers indicate the displacement or any other rational metric."