July 22, 2020 / 6:59 PM / 15 days ago

Audi expects pre-pandemic car sales levels by 2022/2023: paper

FILE PHOTO: The company logo is seen at the headquarters of the German car manufacturer Audi in Ingolstadt, Germany, June 3, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) luxury car unit Audi expects car sales to reach pre-COVID-19 levels only by 2022 or 2023, Chief Executive Markus Duesmann told a German business daily.

“We certainly expect the coronavirus crisis to have longer-term effects”, Duesmann told Handelsblatt’s Thursday edition according to a pre-released version.

“We have had a very difficult second quarter. Things are slowly picking up, but not as a sharp ‘V’ as one would wish for”, he said, adding that some countries like China showed a strong rebound while other markets needed longer.

Audi is partly banking on rising demand for electronic vehicles, benefiting from government incentives. The carmaker is targeting 2020 sales of 40,000 E-tron branded cars after selling 17,000 in the first six months, Duesmann said.

He conceded that Tesla (TSLA.O) has a significant technological lead in several areas.

“Currently, Tesla has larger batteries because their cars are built around the batteries. Tesla is two years ahead in terms of computing and software architecture, and in autonomous driving as well”, he said.

Separately, Handelsblatt reported that Volkswagen sales head Juergen Stackmann is leaving his post amid a broader management reshuffle at the VW Group, which has seen Skoda head Bernhard Maier, Traton head Andreas Renschler, commercial vehicles head Thomas Sedran and software head Christian Senger step down.

Volkswagen declined to comment.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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