INGOLSTADT, Germany, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese customers are particularly important to Audi and there will be a significantly greater focus on China in the product development process, management board members from the German carmaker Audi AG said on Thursday.
To safeguard the Chinese market is the first priority of its realignment, Bram Schot, chairman of the board of management, said during its annual press conference.
"China is and will remain our largest single market... We want to continue to grow profitably there and to develop products and services that are precisely tailored to that market," Schot added.
"We have also implemented a new steering model: with clear responsibilities in the Board of Management, a significantly greater focus on China in the product development process, and a stronger local presence," he reiterated.
Schot said that 2019 will be a year of transition for the Ingolstadt-based company. According to Alexander Seitz, member of the board of management responsible for finance, China, compliance and integrity, more than 660,000 cars were delivered to Chinese customers in 2018, an increase of 11 percent.
"China provided the volume push we needed in that difficult year," Seitz said, adding "we want to continue to lead in China, the market of the future."
"Local research and development, strong local partnerships and China-only products will enable us to respond even better to the needs of our Chinese customers," Seitz addressed the press conference.
In 2018, Audi has delivered a total of 1.81 million automobiles worldwide, down by 3.5 percent than in the previous year. The group revenue reached 59 billion euros (66.7 billion U.S. dollars). The operating return on sales fell to 6 percent, due to special items resulting from the diesel crisis.