Audi is warning that it could wind up temporarily halting production of some of its high end models unless sales begin to improve in Western Europe.
Recession-riddled Western Europe's auto industry woes largely avoided German luxury brands, but Audi and rivals like Mercedes-Benz and BMW are concerned that even their high-end buyers are beginning to stay away from showrooms in Europe. Sales in North America remain strong, but Audi relies on Europe and China for much of its volume. In addition, Audi represents about half of parent Volkswagen Group's operating profit.
Audi has temporarily suspended production of its range-topping A7, A8 and R8 models twice this fall to keep production in line with demand and it says that the Neckarsulm, Germany, plant that builds those models might be a harbinger of things to come next year.
For now, Audi's labor leader, Peter Mosch, says that the October halts are "sufficient for a short-term period," but he warned that "further action may have to be taken" if the market continues to deteriorate.