Audi has a new strategy, get them well they are young and ready to buy. Audi is closing in on Mercedes-Benz in the small but crucial market for premium cars priced that start below $30,000.
In its first three months on the market, Audi’s A3 outsold the comparable Mercedes entry-level coupe almost 2 to 1, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
In June, the A3’s U.S. sales beat the CLA’s sales 2,452 to 1,658, according to Automotive News data. CLA sales have dropped in seven of the past eight months, a turnabout from last year, when the sporty four-door pushed Mercedes past BMW to become the U.S. best-seller and the most successful new Mercedes model in two decades.
“CLA was the only game in town for a while, and now there’s something to compare it to,” Michelle Krebs, an analyst at AutoTrader.com, said in an interview. “If you read some of the comparison tests, the A3 is coming out on top by a long stretch.”
While entry-level models represent just a fraction of overall sales for high-end luxury brands, the market is important. Carmakers use lower-priced vehicles to target young, upwardly mobile drivers who might become brand loyalists for life, eventually shelling out six figures for a top-of-the-line, high-margin sedan.
“The idea is to get them when their brand preference is being formed,” said Jesse Toprak, an analyst at Cars.com. “And then hopefully keep them as they make more money and upgrade.” Entering this market is a smart move on Audi’s part. It will be interesting to see what other luxury car manufactories will do to keep up to them.