Previewed at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show by the metroproject quattro, the A1 launched in 2010 as the Audi equivalent to the Volkswagen Polo. Sold primarily in the European Union, the subcompact hatchback is more successful than the quirky A2 but not as commercially viable as the A3.
From a high point of 98,264 units in 2012, sales took a turn for the worse in the past few years. 2020 was very harsh for the A1, which sold 58,224 units in the European Union over a plethora of direct and indirect circumstances.
First and foremost, the virus that shall not be named has made a mess of new-car sales in the Old Continent. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association says that the passenger-car market has contracted by 23.7 percent to 9.9 million vehicles. Of those, 10.5 percent were electrically-chargeable vehicles that are friendlier to the environment.
Rising demand for PHEVs and EVs is explained by the Euro 6D-Temp emissions standard that requires automakers to keep fleet-wide CO2 emissions below 95 grams per kilometer. Anything over that limit is penalized by the European Commission with huge fines. Volkswagen, for example, had to pay a premium of more than 100 million euros last year for failing to meet the 2020 emissions target of 99.3 grams by… wait for it… 0.5 grams.
Modifying existing powerplants to emit less carbon dioxide is very expensive, and with the Euro 7 standard looming on the horizon, Audi has recently decided to focus on electrification instead of internal combustion. Alas, chief executive officer Markus Duesmann has confirmed to Automotive News that any potential ground-up redesign of the A1 has been axed.
Duesmann first hinted about the demise of the A1 in February, citing the financial challenges of electrifying small cars. Given these circumstances, the supermini will be indirectly replaced by the slow-selling Q2 or the long-rumored A3 Cityhopper. Whatever the future holds for the European automotive industry as a whole, this is the end of the road for the A1.