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Battle of the Bavaria-based brands

Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann has responded strongly in correcting remarks made by BMW

Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann has responded strongly in correcting remarks made by BMW’s local head of corporate communications, Toni Andreevski.

“It’s only natural that others want a piece of the pie,” Andreevski told Carsguide in response to Hofmann’s bullish assertion that Audi will significantly increase its share of the prestige market at its rival’s expense.

See Hofmann’s recession-rebuffing forecast.

“But the fact is that we continue to reduce fuel consumption, provide the best driving experience and have the highest resale values,” Andreevski says.

“Cars that are cheaper to buy are not necessarily the cheapest to run in the longer terms. We didn’t have a single diesel vehicle five years ago, now they are among our best sellers.”

If these words were intended to provoke Hofmann they could not have been better calculated. “While some may have managed a modest sales increase, Audi is a clear winner with 30 per cent growth,” Audi’s number one ripostes. “The proof is in the pudding – or even the pie. The size of the slice should no longer be taken for granted.

“Our resale values, which are easily on par for all core models, and even better for key segments like the A4’s B-segment, according to Glass’s Guide, who produce the industry-accepted residual values data.”

Hofmann adds pointedly that Audi has offered its cutting-edge direct-injection turbo diesels here since 2000 and that it has reduced fuel consumption by 10 per cent with each new generation.

“We actually offer the largest fleet of fuel efficient vehicles in Australia – with at least 12 vehicles in our current line up with consumption of 7 litres/100km or less – and therefore exempt from LCT.”

While this Bavarian civil war is being fought globally, Australia (Audi’s fastest-growing market) has become one of the more bitterly contested theatres.

The stoush has an extra edge given that in their homeland Audi’s new A4 last year became the best-selling prestige car at the expense of BMW’s 3- Series. And while Audi recorded its 13th consecutive year of growth to break the million sales mark for the first time, their rivals posted its first annual decline in sales for 15 years.

But if BMW slumped 4.3 per cent, it significantly outsold Audi, with 1.44 million units shifted. Similarly, BMW remained by far the dominant of the two here in 2008, selling 17,263 to Audi’s 9410, although the Ingolstadt brand’s growth dwarves that of the Munich mob.

Meanwhile, it was announced last week that BMW Australia’s managing director, Günther Seemann, is moving on to take over as head of sales for Asia, Oceania and South Africa. A new manager for the Australia is yet to be announced.

Whoever it is, might be well-advised advised to practice their pie eating.