After four years of ‘will-it-won’t-it,’ a report from WDIV Local 4 News in Detroit indicates that Audi has finally decided to build a plant in the U.S. According to that source, questions remain about where to build it and what to build there, but its future is certain. However, Four-Rings boss Rupert Stadler indicated “those decisions will be made in the next 36 months,” leading us to believe there’s yet a ways to go.
A summary of the timeline: Way back in January of 2008, Audi USA boss Johan de Nysschen said there were no plans for a factory here, and the company wouldn’t need one until it was moving 150,000 cars per year in the 50 states. In May of that year, the brand said it would need to share the factory that VW was building. In November of that year, VW Group boss Martin Winterkorn said Audi needed an American factory to meet its sales goal of 200,000 sales per year. Last year Stadler told Automobilewoche that it didn’t need to build it’s own plant in the U.S., that it “could build a car in the U.S. in six months” at VW’s new Chattanooga plant. Just last month, Audi said it would decide in the next 12 months whether to build in the U.S.
Audi sold 101,629 cars here in 2010, and expects to hit 114,000 this year. According to the brand’s own math, that would make a U.S. plant a looming necessity. In February, Automobile hinted at a plant expansion at the Chattanooga factory that would produce a VW crossover, with enough extra capacity to include Audi and Porsche high-roofed vehicles.