Creative troubleshooting remains crucial.
Like every automaker, Audi has struggled and continues to do so with the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage crisis. Some carmakers have weathered the storm better than others but it hasn't been smooth sailing by any means. As the Volkswagen Group's luxury brand and highest profit maker, Audi has had no choice but to find creative daily solutions in order to troubleshoot production issues in order to keep the assembly lines moving.
Speaking to Reuters, Audi CEO Markus Duesmann acknowledged the brand "had a very strong first half of 2021. We do expect a much weaker second half. We really have trouble." The executive referred to the situation as "a perfect storm."
But this whole thing has also been a critical learning experience not only for Audi but for automakers in general. For starters, it's become apparent to forge closer ties to Asian chipmakers. In some cases, automakers are examining whether it's possible to set up domestic chip production. In any case, Duesmann acknowledges that Audi needs some readjustment as it embarks on an all-electric vehicle future. All new models will be 100 percent electric starting in 2026.
Internal combustion engines aren't going anywhere yet. The plan is to phase them out completely by no later than 2033. Duesmann remains upbeat that EV profitability will equal that of combustion-engined cars sooner than many predict.
"The point where we earn as much money with electric cars as with combustion engine cars is now, or... next year, 2023. They are very even now, the prices," Duesmann said. Already on sale is the Audi e-tron SUV and e-tron GT sedan. The Q4 e-tron is due in dealerships by the end of this year. Duesmann not only has his hands full running Audi, but also for Lamborghini and Bentley. Both are under Audi's purview.
Although Audi may not end 2021 the way it hoped to, it's important to remember there was only so much that could be done given the circumstances. And no, Duesmann reiterated there are zero plans to sell either Lamborghini or Bentley.