Audi Sales Slump Puts Pressure on CEO to Deliver Turnaround

(Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG’s Audi suffered a 13% slide in April sales, adding urgency to a plan to reignite momentum due to later this month from the luxury brand’s new Chief Executive Officer Bram Schot.

Monthly deliveries dropped to 140,300 cars because of a challenging market environment and a number of model changeovers, Audi said Thursday in a statement. Sales since the start of the year have declined 5.9%, likely pushing VW’s biggest profit center to fall further behind rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG.

Audi has been struggling to put fallout from the 2015 diesel-emissions scandal behind it, with a tumultuous 2018 that involved the arrest of former CEO Rupert Stadler and a 800 million euro ($895 million) fine.

Audi Sales Slump Puts Pressure on CEO to Deliver Turnaround

Schot plans to map out a revamp at the manufacturer’s May 23 annual meeting, usually a sedate affair, with a stronger focus on China and 15 billion euros in savings globally. Cost cuts will account for about two-thirds of this push, including trimming back Audi’s bloated management ranks. Audi faced a “tough year” of improving operations, Chief Financial Officer Alexander Seitz said in March.

The manufacturer -- soundly beating luxury rivals in China for decades -- reported a 12% drop in the world’s largest car market as changeovers of high-volume cars like the long version of the A6 sedan weighed on April deliveries, Audi said. The brand sold just over 663,000 vehicles in China last year to narrowly hold on to the lead. Mercedes and BMW will report monthly sales in the coming days.

“The renewal of our product range still requires a major effort,” said Martin Sander, vice president of global marketing.

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