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Audi's Counterintuitive Spending, New Models Lure The Affluent

Audi is taking the counterintuitive tack of investing heavily in the U.S. market this year, with a 20% bump in its marketing spend, eight new models and a decision to get into the Super Bowl ad game, Vanessa Fuhrmans reports. "When you have a marketplace hitting the reset button," Audi's U.S. marketing chief Scott Keogh tells her, it's "the perfect time to get ourselves into the conversation."

The hunch -- and investment -- appears to be working so far. Three years ago, Audi was losing many more car owners to Lexus than it was luring from the Japanese premium carmaker. This year, three times as many former Lexus owners have switched to Audi as the other way around, according to R.L. Polk & Co. Buyers have been attracted by Audi's downsized versions of bigger models, such as its the Q5 compact crossover SUV.

In other automotive news, Reuters reports that General Motors is weighing it options after its deal to sell its Swedish unit Saab to niche luxury carmaker Koenigsegg, backed by China's BAIC, collapsed. No other bidders have emerged for the brand and observers suggest that GM will be forced to wind down the business.



Free Press columnist Tom Walsh, meanwhile, talks to Tom LaSorda, the former Chrysler president who was working with Penske Automotive Group to purchase the Saturn car brand from GM. That deal fell through on Sept. 30 when French automaker Renault "got cold feet," as LaSorda says, and suddenly nixed an agreement to supply Saturn dealers with vehicles from China. "We were shocked," LaSorda says, in his first public comments about the aborted deal.

Read the whole story at Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Detroit Free Press »

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