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Audi to unveil realignment plan as FY'18 profit declines

German luxury carmaker Audi AG will unveil a strategic realignment plan in May after posting weaker-than-expected results for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2018.

The Volkswagen AG unit said the plan will help the company increase productivity and focus on its core business activities as it expects 2019 to be "a transition year with special challenges," albeit dominated by its electrification initiative. Among its plans is to launch the electric version of its Audi Q2 L e-tron exclusively for Chinese customers.

"We will be much more customer-oriented and less self-centered; we will focus on what is decisive and implement what is decided upon in a very consistent and disciplined manner," CEO Bram Schot said.

Handelsblatt reported that Audi will cut its workforce by as much as 15% over the next five years as part of the realignment. In its announcement, Audi only said: "In dialog with the employee representatives, the company is defining the future allocation of Audi models to the plants and thus the distribution of tasks and the plants' capacity development in the international development and production network."

For the 2018 full year, Audi's net operating profit came in at €3.53 billion from €4.67 billion in the year-ago period. Deliveries fell year over year to 1,812,485 units from 1,878,105 units, while revenue also declined to €59.25 billion from €59.79 billion in 2017.

In addition, net cash flow came in at €2.14 billion from €4.31 billion and net liquidity came in at €20.44 billion from €20.79 billion in the past year.

Audi said its results were primarily affected by the changeover to WLTP emissions standards and diesel crisis. It expects operating return on sales to be between 7% and 8.5% for 2019, below its long-term target.