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Audi and the seven-year itch

The time of confusing number games is now over at car manufacturer Audi. Audi is changing its labelling logic for the seventh year in a row and is returning to its old “path to success”. In 2017, Audi was the first and so far only manufacturer to decide to reorganise its model designations and categorise its vehicles into performance classes using two-digit numbers.

This approach was chosen at the time in order to break away from the industry-standard use of engine capacity figures and introduce a new labelling system in line with the then still relatively new trend towards electric mobility.

The idea was to use two-digit numbers, such as 30, 55 and 70, to define new model clusters that characterise the output of the engines in kilowatts. This was to be done both for the remaining combustion engines and for all electric vehicles. So much for the theory! In practice, however, this plan did not work out and the new nomenclature is already being buried again after just seven years.

As the innomark GmbH had already predicted in 2017, the concept was too complicated and compartmentalised and failed to catch on with customers. The logic could not be understood without a detailed examination of the labelling system. It was only possible to recognise that the rated power of the motor increases with increasing numbers. A risk of confusion with the old industry-conditioned logic was foreseeable and actually materialised. This is because the model labelling, which had been based on engine capacity for decades, was deeply rooted in the minds of customers and regularly led to confusion with the new system practised by Audi.

Now the ripcord has been pulled in Ingolstadt. Audi is returning to a simpler and more coherent logic. In future, the established model series designations A4, A5, A6, A7, etc. will be retained. The modular product range will simply be restructured slightly. From 2024 on, all vehicles with combustion engines will have odd numbers and vehicles with electric motors will have even numbers. An A4 with a combustion engine will then become an A5 and the larger models from the six-series will become A7 vehicles with a combustion engine. Although this will also lead to restructuring in the short term, once the labelling logic has been adjusted, the system will be open to design, logical and far easier to understand than the current approach.


As managing director of innomark GmbH, Thomas H. Schiefer comments on brand issues currently under discussion at irregular intervals.

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