AW: So your time in the US makes you uniquely positioned to understand the North American market. Where is Audi today in the US relative to the other luxury brands?
PS: Well if you measure purely on volume we are obviously quite behind. If you measure it on qualitative growth I think we are on excellent track. Watch what Audi is doing the last seven years and you can get a feel. Maybe I should be asking you? But I think you can feel how our brand is growing in the US. More and more people…it started as maybe a not so well known premium brand and people are becoming more and more aware that there is another German premium brand in the market and we feel we are gaining strength. A lot research shows this. We are right at a major breakthrough in the next several years in the US. I think we have proven that we can do it. If you look at where the brand stands in Europe and who we are – we are #1 in many countries. So why wouldn’t it be possible in the US?
AW: Following that train of thought, what is your approach to marketing Audi in the US? Should it be aggressive and address the competition or should it be based on the product speaking for itself?
PS: Well it’s always several different issues that you have to address. On the one hand I think we have to be careful not to chase too much volume because this leads you very often to wrong decisions. If you measure success only on volume you start to put money in the wrong places. I think you can see some good examples right now in the American market. People thought they can buy the market – you can do this short term sometimes, but long term there is no chance you can “fool” the market. This is true of the financial area which we can see right now. The same is true for the car industry. All the companies have probably been living too long on a path of “put money, buy volume, grow” over and over. This is so unhealthy. There must be a correction in the market and this is what is happening. This is where we have to concentrate. Of course we have to and we want to grow because we think there is a natural potential for Audi in the US market, but we have to do it with small steps and a qualitative approach. We want people to come to us and think “the Audi brand is so interesting that I want to look into it”. We don’t want to just push the best monthly payment.