Those who don't take Audi seriously do so at their own peril.
"People were laughing at Audi a few years ago," said Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America at the Automotive New World Congress in Detroit.
But the luxury brand within the Volkswagen group has come roaring back from near-extinction in the U.S. market two decades ago.
After fears the cars were subject to accidents because of unintended acceleration -- later proven untrue; human error was the cause of high-profile accidents in the late 1980s -- Audi is notching consecutive years of record sales.
Last year, Audi saw its U.S. sales grow more than 18%, to almost 140,000, outpacing the industry and the entrenched competition: BMW and Mercedes.
Audi had a record year in 2012 and expects to break it this year en route to its goal of hitting 200,000 by 2018, which would be more than double 2009's 83,400 U.S. sales.
Audi is the sixth-largest luxury brand in the U.S., behind Cadillac but ahead of Lincoln.
The average Audi is selling for $10,000 more today than in 2007, Keogh said.
"We provide over 50% of profit for the whole group," he said.
"We know we're onto something, and it's working, so we'll keep pressing," Keogh said.
He sees opportunity for continued growth with a generational shift underway from baby boomers to Generation X and Y who are expected to account for 70%-75% of the luxury market by 2020.
New products are on the horizon. Audi used the North American International Auto Show to show the new SQ5 and an RS7 sport sedan/hatchback.
And Audi is introducing the RS5 to the U.S. They will limit sales to 1,500 but it is a high-image car with a 450-horsepower V8.
Technology in the works includes the ability to use smart phone to have your car park itself and then come pick you up again when you are ready to leave.
Audi has said it wants to be the No.1 luxury carmaker in the world with sales of 1.5 million by 2015 and is spending $17 billion, including the new plant under construction in Mexico that will go into production in 2016 to meet U.S. demand.
The plant will make the Q5 with 35% of output for the U.S. and the rest exported around the world.
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