Everything is changing.
Audi recently posted a video celebrating its past, present, and future, but as much as we enjoyed walking down memory lane, the German carmaker is more focused on the future than anything else. That is evident from its three new concepts, one of which was revealed earlier this month and another of which we expect to see early next month. These new electric vehicles preview what is possible in a technologically advanced future, but it's going to take more than just a few snazzy concepts for Audi to truly be a leader in the future. Thus, the company has now outlined its 'Vorsprung 2030' plan, and there's plenty to take in.
Vorsprung durch Technik means Progress through Technology, and that's basically what the plan through 2030 is all about. Here are the bullet points: This new strategy is focused on profitable growth and differentiation, new Audis from 2026 will be all-electric with combustion engines to be completely dead from 2033, and even the management process is "enshrined" in sustainability.
What does this all mean? Well, "Audi wants to be a sustainable, social, and technological leader by 2030," and there are many strategies in place to achieve these goals. Thus, producing EVs is not just about complying with new laws. Rather, Audi realizes that EVs are part of solving the global warming issue and must actually contribute to this cause. "We don't simply develop technology for its own sake," says Audi CEO Markus Duesmann. "It must be consequential and effective in keeping the world moving."
Audi realizes that the market will shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, and when autonomous driving becomes the norm, it will open further potential for growth through software and services. "One thing our entire team finds extremely encouraging is that many employees and the Board of Management are already deeply committed to the issue of sustainability," says chief strategist Silja Pieh. She goes on to explain that Audi wants "to further emphasize responsible business practices in the future and rigorously adhere to them." But in a world where EVs are everywhere, how will the Audi of the future stand out?
Audi will obviously ask its customers what they want and make them more involved in future vehicles, but it will also be focusing on new innovations through the "Audi DNA" project. Technical details such as steering angle requirements, hand torque, and acoustics will be thoroughly evaluated to develop a one-of-a-kind feel for Audi customers. Oliver Hoffmann, who works in technical development at Audi, says that a clear, unmistakable DNA is imperative: "In the future, we will be very explicit in our definition of what driving an Audi should feel like. This also applies to highly automated driving, by the way."
As with other automakers, customers of the future will be able to remotely upgrade their cars and update or install subsystems as needed, but despite the move to EVs, those who continue to buy Audis with internal combustion engines will "also receive exceptional service over their entire life cycle. Our vehicles will be even more customer-centric, individualized, and sustainable thanks to intelligent hardware offered through our after-sales business," says Hoffman.
Volkswagen Group's CARIAD software arm will play an important role here, enabling the synergies and innovations of the future, including autonomous driving. With Audi reporting growth in EVs, thanks in no small part to the stunning RS e-tron GT, the company aims to capitalize on its freed-up financial resources to ensure it remains competitive in the long term. Results-driven management teams and the support of the Volkswagen Group will help achieve this.
Audi is looking to aggressively implement efficient manufacturing processes and smart technologies in its production too, drawing on "a network of institutes, start-ups, and global suppliers" to streamline every aspect possible. Hoffman explains that Audi's goal "is to quickly transform new ideas into customer-relevant innovations," and its Denkwerkstatt innovation unit in Berlin has been developing new ideas for the future for the past five years. To ensure no resources are wasted, Audi uses a jury of experts to evaluate each stage of a project to determine if it's worth pursuing. Thus, good ideas can be focused on and developed in a matter of weeks.
Finally, on the other side of the planet, the Chinese market will be an integral part of the company's plans for future expansion. Audi reckons that "the market for premium vehicles here will grow to 4.5 million units annually by 2030 - in 2020, this figure stood at 3.1 million vehicles." In addition, EVs are estimated to increase from 10% of this market to as much as 40% by the end of the decade. Thus, Audi will expand in China, helping the country's automotive industry to grow. Audi's partnership with Chinese partner SAIC Volkswagen will see the first fruits being borne in new models launched from 2022. Since Audi has shipped close to double the vehicles it sold in 2020 just in the first half of this year, expansion makes sense.
Audi thus seems to have thought of everything in its Vorsprung 2030 plan, and we look forward to seeing the results.