Audi sees a bit of light at end of tunnel in China, CEO Rupert Stadler says

Customers looking at cars in an Audi dealership in Shanghai on Sept 2, 2014.
Customers looking at cars in an Audi dealership in Shanghai on Sept 2, 2014.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Audi, the biggest seller of luxury cars in China, said the market is showing signs of recovery after more customers visited its showrooms there in August.

Audi is confident that the country's growing middle class will ensure its car market keeps growing in the mid- to long- term, chief executive officer Rupert Stadler said at the Hamburg business journalists' club on Tuesday (Sept 8).

The cautiously optimistic comments from the world's second-biggest luxury-car maker come as discounts and other incentives helped prop up sales in China in August. Deliveries increased 0.6 per cent, a positive contrast after a stock market rout sent sales plunging to a 17-month low in July, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

"There was a bit of light at the end of the tunnel in August," Mr Stadler said on Tuesday. "But one swallow doesn't make a summer. That's why my forecast will remain cautious."

Though more customers are shopping, and attractive financing has helped push purchases, discounts on cars continued to rise in August, according to a report on Wednesday from analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein.

Volkswagen AG's Audi is particularly exposed to the slowdown in China, the luxury unit's biggest sales region. In July, Audi abandoned a target to sell 600,000 cars there this year, which would have represented a 3.6 per cent increase.

Other carmakers including BMW AG, the global luxury-market leader, have also cut prices and adjusted production. The slowdown happened "much faster than we expected", BMW's chief financial officer Friedrich Eichiner said last week.

Audi's Mr Stadler said.: "We should wait out the undulation in China. We will see growth again."