“We are placing people at the focus of our thinking and actions.”

What role will digital business models play in the future, what do customers value most, and how important is the charging infrastructure? The interview with Hildegard Wortmann, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, Marketing and Sales.

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Hildegard Wortmann, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, Marketing and Sales (2022)
Hildegard Wortmann, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, Marketing and Sales

Ms. Wortmann, what was the greatest challenge for Marketing and Sales in the past 12 months and how did you master it?

 

The last year really demanded a lot from us, that’s for sure. For a long time, everything was looking really good. Based on deliveries, we had the best first half year in the company’s history and, even after the third quarter, deliveries were significantly above the prior-year figure.

 

Unfortunately the global semiconductor crisis then hit our industry particularly badly and presented us with new challenges once again. Nonetheless, with more than 1.68 million vehicles delivered, we almost matched the previous year’s volume. And in the USA and other core markets, we even surpassed the result for last year. This shows that we are a strong team at Audi – we stand together and see every challenge as an opportunity. We showed flexibility and kept the impact on our customers to a minimum thanks to versatile solutions. The current orders on hand and Incoming orders show how attractive our brand and products are. We are therefore optimistic about the future, because for us the future is an attitude.

The range of electric cars on offer from Audi is growing continually. How are the models being received by customers? What do they value most?

 


The year 2021 was dominated by electric mobility. We accelerated the transformation with a strong year for fully electric vehicles. By consistently implementing our Roadmap E, we succeeded in increasing deliveries of our fully electric vehicles by 57.5 percent. This high demand rewards our courage to make sustainable change and validates our early decision in favor of emission-free drive systems.

 

Last year alone we more than doubled the number of fully electric models. We successfully launched the electric spearhead of the portfolio on the market with the Audi e-tron GT. With its outstanding design and impressive performance, it is delighting customers and fans of the brand alike. The Audi Q4 e-tron models are also highly rated and appeal to a broad target group. Their generous interior, excellent everyday usability and powerful charging and driving performance are impressive. Our first fully electric models – the Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron Sportback – have already been successfully established for some time. Over 123,000 vehicles sold since market launch says it all. We will continue to expand this electric portfolio in the future.

 

Audi will include more than 20 fully electric models in its portfolio by 2026. And, starting in 2027, we will offer our customers electric models in all core segments. My goal is for us to demonstrate that we are progress. It’s clear to us: The future is electric!

Audi e-tron Sportback: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 24–20.9 (NEDC) | 25.9–21.1 (WLTP)CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 19.6–18.8 (NEDC) | 21.8–19.9 (WLTP)CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.

Audi e-tron Sportback: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 24–20.9 (NEDC) | 25.9–21.1 (WLTP)CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 19.6–18.8 (NEDC) | 21.8–19.9 (WLTP)CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.

A crucial factor with electric models quite apart from the vehicle itself is the charging infrastructure. What is Audi doing for its customers in this area?

 

We have to look at mobility holistically, beyond the actual vehicle. Our customers need to be convinced by the overall package and not just the vehicles. The individual experience is vital.

 

That’s why Audi is expanding its infrastructure with strong partnerships and collaboratively across the Group in Europe, Asia and America. For example, the Audi e-tron Charging Service is already available to our customers today at some 320,000 charging points in 26 European countries. And with only one card needed!

 

The Audi Charging Hub in Nuremberg as well as in Zurich in the future is the next step. This modular urban premium charging concept offers high-power charging and, optionally, a connected lounge area, making charging a premium experience. And Europe’s largest public high-power charging network IONITY, of which we have been a member and joint venture partner since the very outset, is to invest in more than 5,000 additional fast-charging points by 2025.

How is the car trade changing and what role will digital business models play in the future?

 

The fundamental transformation of the automotive industry is also resulting in a number of changes in the sales area. A central aspect of our strategy is that we are placing people at the focus of our thinking and actions. We call it Human Centricity. In my view, digitalization of the entire customer journey will become the most important distinguishing feature. A holistic customer experience, both online and offline, is critical.

 

Customers expect seamless interconnection of all contact and information channels. This can only work if we the manufacturer get more closely involved in the direct customer relationship. The introduction of agency sales for our fully electric models in European markets planned starting in 2023 is an elementary pillar for the customer-centered focus of our sales model. In this way, we are further expanding the direct contact to our customers that we have already established in the area of direct selling, for example, with functions on demand. In this respect, the agency model opens up completely new possibilities for us with regard to building a seamless customer journey across all touchpoints.

 

To this end, we are interlinking our efficient sales network with our digital communication channels. This is the next logical step toward an electric and digital future. Yet digitalization impacts more than just the sales model: The ecosystem surrounding the car, in particular, will be a deciding factor in the future. For this reason, we are adopting a holistic approach to self-driving electric cars. This will touch our customers’ lives in various ways and go beyond classic mobility requirements. For example, we are creating completely new experiences – from charging, navigating, parking and paying through to additional offerings and mobility services through automated driving.

Strategy "Vorsprung 2030" – How Audi is shaping the future

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Strategy "Vorsprung 2030" – How Audi is shaping the future

“Vorsprung durch Technik” for the electric era

 

The electric mobility offensive of the Four Rings comes at just the right time. Climate-friendly mobility is becoming increasingly important. As of 2027, the company will offer electric models in all core segments. This range of electric cars will stand out from the competition thanks to its distinctive Audi DNA and “Vorsprung durch Technik” in certain areas. Design, sportiness, driving comfort and quality will all make a difference. In addition, Audi will demonstrate its strengths in workmanship, color & trim and acoustics.

 

A clear plan for the last and, at the same time, best combustion-engine vehicle from Audi

 

Audi is accelerating its changeover to electric mobility: As early as 2026, all new models from the Four Rings on the global market will be fully electric. And in 2033, the Four Rings will shut down the production of vehicles with internal combustion engines. One exception could be China, where the company is investigating the possibility of longer production depending on local demand. The last combustion-engine generation comes with a promise: It will be the best that Audi has ever put on the market. This drive strategy was set out clearly at an early stage, thus providing planning certainty and helping to guide future investments in a targeted and efficient manner. For Audi, this technological change goes hand in hand with the biggest transformation process in the company’s history. A particular focus will be on ensuring that the employees affected are able to train and develop successfully.

 

ESG performance as the basis for a better future

 

Audi already has net carbon-neutral1 operations for the production of its vehicles at several sites. Now the company is focusing even more strongly on sustainability throughout the entire product life cycle – from resource extraction and vehicle operation to recycling of the materials used. In the future, ESG (Environmental – Social – Governance) aspects are to play an important role in all the decisions made by Audi, as well as in its products and services. The main ESG criteria are climate protection, the use of finite resources, employee health and safety and the perception of social responsibility. Another consideration is the robustness of Audi’s corporate governance, for example in terms of compliance and risk management. Audi also submits to external evaluation in all these areas and will be given an internationally recognized ESG rating.

 

Holistic ecosystem puts users first and creates meaningful and fascinating experiences

 

Audi wants to make the progressive premium mobility of tomorrow even more attractive. Alongside the vehicle itself, its focus in the future will be on a holistic customer experience and on ways of integrating that experience into the lives of users. With this in mind, Audi is taking a close look at the users’ needs. They expect fascinating and meaningful experiences from Audi, as well as holistic solutions that seamlessly span all areas of their everyday lives. The ecosystem for electric cars – and in the future also for cars that drive automated – plays a central role in the transformation and will be key to customer satisfaction and thus to long-term, personal customer relationships. An elementary component of the ecosystem is charging, which has already been implemented successfully with charging options at home wall boxes, a comprehensive charging infrastructure with charging points throughout Europe and intelligent route planning. When it comes to further expanding the ecosystem, automated driving in particular will be a game changer. It will give rise to a large number of additional use cases that will fundamentally change the way people use their vehicles. The car will become a personal experience device and can be used as an office, a movie theater, a place to relax or as a space for shopping and gaming. The Audi ecosystem consistently focuses on the user and connects the vehicle with a wide range of services that cover all areas of life – both online and offline. This creates a holistic experience that spans all points of contact with the Audi brand and fits seamlessly into users’ lives.

 

Intelligent hardware: In the future, vehicle part will be fully connected and increasingly made of sustainable materials

 

Thanks to intelligent hardware, customers will be able to continually upgrade their cars going forward. This will ensure that Audi models remain attractive throughout their life cycle. To this end, Audi wants to offer its customers parts with an intelligent information system that proactively sends a request for replacement if it detects wear or a defect. The technical basis for this is provided by the vehicles’ connectivity with a sophisticated interplay of algorithms and sensors. In addition, Audi will recycle components to premium standards to strengthen a circular economy. Sustainable materials and resource-conserving production are key elements here. All these measures are also aimed at positively impacting the residual values of the models in the future. At the same time, Audi is thus expanding its range of services in the after-sales sector and aims to generate additional revenue in this profitable business area.

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