By Drew Johnson
Wednesday, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 10:46 am
 
BMW's M-tuned cars aren't the company's volume sellers, but they do boost the company's bottom line with higher margins, particularly here in the U.S. Audi, looking to become the world's largest automaker, has taken note of BMW's strategy and is now planning a number of high-performance models for the U.S.

Audi's RS-line of performance cars has been somewhat of a forbidden fruit for U.S. buyers, but the German automaker will launch two new RS-badged cars here in the coming months. Not only will the RS cars give U.S. buyers the performance they desire, but will also add to Audi's profitability with higher transaction prices.

Audi's new TT RS is arriving on dealer lots now, carrying a base price of $56,850. The TT RS boasts outstanding performance thanks to a 360 horsepower turbocharged engine, but also commands a near $20,000 premium over the standard car.

The Audi RS 5 is slated to hit our shores early next year, but Audi has yet to announce pricing for the 450 horsepower super coupe. However, the S5 starts at about $60,000, so it's not unreasonable to think the RS 5 could list from $80,000 or more.

Audi's strategy to push performance cars appears to be working as the company's average transaction price has increased 9.1 percent to $48,127 since January of 2010. During that same time BMW's average transaction price fell 3.6 percent to $52,552 while Mercedes saw a slight 2.6 percent improvement to $54,530.

More RS models on the way?
With the exit of the RS 4 from the U.S. market a few years ago, the TT RS and RS 5 will stand as Audi's lone U.S. RS-offerings. However, that could change in the coming years as Audi says it is considering more performance derivatives.

"We're now taking the first steps with the TT RS and the RS 5," Audi sales head Peter Schwarzenbauer told Bloomberg. "I could indeed imagine that we'll continue along that route in the future."

Schwarzenbauer didn't mention any specific models in line for the RS treatment, but an RS 6 seems like the next logical step to take on the BMW M5.