“Software will be our biggest lever for exploiting synergies and innovations in the future.”
The new strategy describes a far-reaching transformation for the coming years at different levels. How do you plan to achieve this?
We now know where we need to focus our strengths and also have enough time to shape the change in an orderly manner. Battery electric mobility is the only way we can efficiently and effectively contribute to the battle against climate change. That’s why technical clarity is so important at this point. It’s equally important that the electricity grids are expanded and charging options developed, for example. The focus for Audi is on continuing to drive the transformation of our product portfolio, the sales structures and our production sites toward e-mobility. New areas of responsibility are thus also emerging for our employees, such as in the field of battery assembly or with expanding the circular economy. We are preparing ourselves for these challenges and investing accordingly in their training.
Digitalization is becoming increasingly important in all areas of life. The car is no exception here. How do you intend to transform Audi vehicles into traveling mobile devices?
Software will be our biggest lever for exploiting synergies and innovations in the future. That’s why, as the Volkswagen Group, we have pooled our entire development strength in the software company CARIAD. Joint electronic architectures are being developed here as well as a uniform operating system for all Group brands. Good progress was made in developing CARIAD in 2021. The collaboration between the brands and CARIAD as a strong technology partner has now also been formally and strategically regulated. All attention is now focused on bringing the projects to fruition.
What role does China play as a market?
We see enormous potential in the Chinese market, especially in the premium segment and with electric vehicles. We will start selling models from our second partner SAIC Volkswagen in 2022. This will give us a further foothold in the market. At the same time, we are expanding our cooperation with FAW-Volkswagen. Our Chinese customers attach great importance to digital services and, together, we will be able to incorporate their specific needs in the products even more intensively than before. China is also a technology driver in many areas – for example, in the area of automated driving. We are working closely with local partners and authorities and have used test licenses for researching fully automated driving in Beijing and Wuxi for some time now.
Let’s take a look back at 2021: What was really successful and what makes you proud?
I am proud of our "Vorsprung 2030” strategy – both in terms of the outcome and because employees at all hierarchical levels were involved in its inception. Thanks to “Vorsprung 2030,” we now have a well-founded transformation plan toward e-mobility and digital business models as well as a clear pathway for the years ahead. I am also impressed at how the entire Audi team pulled together and showed great heart throughout what was also a challenging year in 2021. Firstly in managing the everyday difficulties presented by the pandemic, and secondly in handling the restrictions in the supply of semiconductors. This is the type of spirit and solidarity that we will need in the future, too.
One megatrend is automated driving. How will it change our mobility?
For us, automated driving is a key technology with the potential to make traffic safer and mobility more convenient for our customers. At the same time, it offers us the possibility to make mobility accessible to people who cannot currently drive a car themselves owing to physical limitations for instance. That’s why, with CARIAD, we are pushing ahead intensely with the introduction of the technology.
As one of the goals set out in the new “Vorsprung 2030” strategy, you want to increase sales to more than three million models per year by 2030. How do you intend to do that?
It is certainly ambitious but also feasible considering market forecasts and our planned product road map. Our “Vorsprung 2030” strategy clearly targets growth – both in terms of quantity and quality. This means that, above all, profitability is critical. Audi has proven that we can generate high returns within our strategic target corridor of between 9 and 11 percent. By stringently implementing our strategy and increasingly exploiting Group synergies, we can achieve a sustained return of more than 11 percent in the long term.
What are you planning for the next 12 months?
The path toward “Vorsprung 2030” is clearly defined. Our task as the Audi team is to now implement this plan consistently. We are therefore continuing to work at full tilt on our internal processes, especially in product development, so that we can respond quickly and flexibly to changing demands – to new regulatory requirements and also to fulfill the needs and wishes of our customers.
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