The argument is made in a Reuters article: Audi is falling behind other luxury brands, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, due to a lack of research-and-development spending and "brain drain," or the migration of top executives and R&D chiefs to other parts of the Volkswagen Group. Reuters notes that Audi's current R&D chief is the third in 16 months.

Audi, which contributed to 40 percent of VW Group's $11.6 billion in profit the first nine months of the year, is delivering cars at a record pace: 1.31 million were delivered from January to October 2013 versus BMW's 1.35 million. Yet Audi, Reuters reports, doesn't have a halo car akin to BMW's new electrified i3 and i8 or an answer to Mercedes' plug-in-hybrid S-Class, and the R&D spending at Audi is less than BMW and Mercedes by a fair margin. It's noted in the article, however, that Audi benefits from other R&D spending within VW Group.

Reuters mentions that BMW "trumpets its new 'i' series" and the new Mercedes CLA and GLA ranges are winning "rave reviews" as part of its argument that Audi's recent lack of technological innovation could hurt future sales. Those cars do pack tons of new technology, some of which are firsts for mainstream production cars. But last time we checked, the i3 could be causing BMW's stock to slide, the CLA isn't receiving the rave reviews that Reuters would have you believe and the GLA hasn't been reviewed yet.

We've reached out to Audi for comments on the article but haven't yet received a response. If we hear anything in response, we'll pass it along. In the meantime, head over to Reuters to read the article, which makes some interesting speculation about the current state of Audi.


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  • 73 Comments
      Justin Campanale
      • 1 Year Ago
      Who are you trying to kid? AUDI is the one without innovation? BMW has lost almost all of its innovation. The new M5 is an overweight pig. The new 3 series is less fun to drive than all of the preceding models. The Z3/Z4 line has morphed from a nimble little sports car to a status symbol for trophy wivesThey are eschewing the very same high revving engines they used to be known for.The prices are skyrocketing out of control. The cars are increasingly being marketed towards badge ******, rather than real enthusiasts. Audi at least has some excitement going on with the RS and S line. And let's not forget:they have a new Quattro coming up.
        thecommentator2013
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        You're right. Nothing really innovative coming from Audi. Really not. And I say this as former Audi driver.
      Dave M
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like Audis, but as an owner of 2 I am biased. The article makes no mention of Audi's racing dominance and the R&D that is tied up in making the best endurance cars in the world. I am surprised, though, that Audi has not brought e-tron to the mass market. Americans are not ready to embrace diesel and that may be the thing that hurts them in this market since they seem to be placing a large bet on it here.
      Nick
      • 1 Year Ago
      Losing Peter Schreyer hurt more than they're willing to admit.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      SloopJohnB
      • 1 Year Ago
      The worst thing Audi did was eliminate the V8 from the A6 line for the supercharged V6. Not to mention the NVH on the gas V6 engine is much worse than the diesel! 300-350hp with the 4.2 (or the 3.8 from Europe) V8 is a sweet spot in the A6 line that Audi is now reserving for A8 and up. The lack of a V6 (not the S4) in the A4 lineup is also a miss for those who really dislike the power delivery characteristics of the 2.0T…it's flat off the line (so what 8 speed transmission?) and just ok at speed.
        Hernan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SloopJohnB
        Fuel economy standards will mean this will happen more and more. The problem for me with the new A6 (as opposed to the previous generation) is that it looks too much like the A4. The previous one was easy to tell apart.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just a sensationalist article.
      mcc1975
      • 1 Year Ago
      Last time I saw, all I read was about Quattro and e-tron prototypes that keep coming again and again... as protoypes. The other news was that Audi developed a new automatic dimming LED lights and was lobbying for legalisation in the USA. And that's why I believe some people here (and Reuters) might be right: Audi is just a giant PR machine... yes, I know, they are pushing diesel in USA... how innovative!
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      LeeBromley
      • 1 Year Ago
      Audi still makes fantastic road and race cars, but the brand image is quite stale now. They suck at social media and always come across as very, very corporate and dull on Twitter etc. The latest hashtag campaign, which offered nothing more than a test drive in an R8, attracted less than 500 people writing the hashtag. For an account with supposedly hundreds of thousands of (real?) followers that is terrible. Volkswagen spends a massive amount on creative advertising, whereas Audi clearly spends a fortune shoehorning its vehicles into superhero movies and on to red carpets. The only decent Audi advert in recent years was the R8 on the rollers video that went viral, and that was ripped off from the Heffner Performance video. Also, it appears to have lost some of its identity by trying to pander to the American market.
      rmkensington
      • 1 Year Ago
      The I3 and I8 are going to sell in small #'s. Since its likely gas prices arent going to change much for awhile I dont seen them selling well at all. It is kind of a neat Halo car, but doesnt do much to make money.
        sfblog
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rmkensington
        I8 has already sold out
        axiomatik
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rmkensington
        It's not about making money. It is about developing technologies and manufacturing processes that set up BMW for success in the next 2 decades. What is Audi doing that will put it in a leadership position 15 years from now? That is the point of the article.
      MyerShift
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wait, what? BMW's i as a halo vehicle? Puh-lease. I'm sure that thing drained a fair bit of resources from BMW's other lines. Audi doesn't need some ecoweeniemobile.
      FIDTRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Audi does innovate, of that there is no question. Many have already commented about such innovations. What Audi--and VW for that matter--really need to work on is their dealership experience. It's seriously one of the worst in the business. The sales staff are generally okay, but the post-sales experience is really lacking. I've heard stories from friends about really rude employees and they felt that they weren't treated respectfully. This seriously impedes the chances of customers returning to Audi when it comes time to get a new car. It's a shame too, because the cars are good.
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