Audi has decided not to release the Audi A1 in the United States, and their reasoning is shaky at best.
Looks like Audi will not be bringing the new Audi A1 to the States. Seen as a major rival to the MINI Cooper, the Audi A1 is a luxury-level supermini that should get up to 170 hp from one of five different engine choices and a possible hybrid.
Expected engines for the vehicle include a 1.2-liter 86 hp, a 122 hp 1.4-liter naturally-aspirated and a 170 hp turbocharged engine, and two diesels. The diesel options comprise of a 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter units, getting 90 and 143 horsepower. Both of the Audi A1 concepts have featured a mid-range 1.4 liter petrol engine mated to an electric motor.
The first of these used an additional 40 hp electric that ran the rear wheels, while the second used a 27 hp version running the front wheels. Concepts aside, the Audi A1 engine choices seem to be perfectly slotted to compete against every level of MINI Cooper, beginning with the MINI One, on up to the 175 hp turbocharged MINI Cooper S.
So why then would Audi not want the A1 in the States? The MINI created a resurgence in American interest in a small car when it was introduced earlier in the decade. And, despite BMW's sales falling in 2008, the MINI saw yet another increase in new vehicle sales for 2008. Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen glossed over the MINI's record in the U.S., instead noting his belief that the Americans by-and-large think small cars are inexpensive.
U.S. dealers were apparently clammoring for the A1, until the found out the potential price tag: over $25,000. The Audi exec claims dealers told him "You cannot charge this much for small cars. ... In their mind, they were thinking $18,000, because that's the conditioning our society still has."
This seems unusual, since a well-kitted out MINI Cooper S with premium wheels and Bluetooth can easily cost over $30,000. And that's without a navigation system. Meanwhile, the A1's other major competitor, the BMW 1-series, starts at $29,400.
Nonetheless, the Audi A1 may come to the U.S. when they release a second-generation. We should see the unveiling of the 2010 Audi A1 sometime soon.