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Audi’s plan to lead electric and autonomous car innovation

The German carmaker is no stranger to the ever-changing demands of mobility.

Digital technology is transforming the world at breakneck speed. There is now an app for almost anything anyone needs. It, along with sustainability and urbanisation, is among a few of the megatrends defining how the world moves forward.

As one of the world’s leading makers of premium cars, Audi is no stranger to adapting quickly to the demands of mobility. The German manufacturer’s ability to do so is driven by its philosophy of “Vorsprung durch Technik” or “Progress through Technology”. The carmaker unveiled a roadmap – the “Audi.Vorsprung.2025” strategy.

In terms of sustainability, it is targeting to sell 800,000 new energy vehicles through more than 20 electrified models and plug-in hybrids. Under this plan, its production plants will also be CO2-neutral by the end of the next decade.

(Related: Audi follows in Tesla’s footsteps with upcoming small, all-electric SUV)

Cities are also reaching the limits of their capacities in mobility and solutions are needed so that people are able to commute unhindered. Through digitisation, the company expects to earn €1 billion (S$1.5 billion) in operating profit from new business models to address some of these issues, especially gridlock. Autonomous driving and parking, ride sharing and intelligent traffic management are among the technologies that Audi is developing.

“Digital is the way the world is going,” says Rudi Venter, Audi Singapore’s general manager of marketing. “The thing that is going to separate us from other players who also make very good cars is the customer experience. We are going to offer unique things that Audi customers will appreciate because they won’t be able to experience them anywhere else.”

Venter explains that for the strategy to remain sustainable, it is vital for the company to stay at the forefront of developing innovative technology and reducing its ecological footprint and this is about setting the benchmark for electric vehicles. The world premiere of the Audi e-tron SUV in California last year has set the tone. Pundits assessed the electric car’s drive as uniquely dynamic and said it creates a new feeling of mobility.

On the heels of the electric car is the race to produce autonomous vehicles and Audi is ahead of the game. The latest generation of the flapship Audi A8 is the first production car to be developed for Level 3 autonomy. This is where a driver can at times hand over all aspects of driving to the vehicle.

  • AA8 AUDI 181003
    The creation of Audi design chief Marc Lichte, the latest A8 is sporty elegance with a streamlined, spacious interior.

Audi’s range of cars meets different demands of premium mobility customers, says Venter. “For instance, the fourth generation A8, created by design chief Marc Lichte, embodies our vision of luxury and prestige,” he says. “It has a sporty elegance about it and in the interior, there are hardly any buttons or switches. Instead, there is a new touch display integrated into the black panel surface. This makes it more spacious inside the car.”

With a coupe-like roofline and clean, spacious interior, the A7 Sportback, he says, is a unique concept that combines the spaciousness of a sedan with the stylishness of a coupe and the versatility of a stationwagon (or “Avant” in Audi speak). The A6, meanwhile, is a an intelligent sedan with sharp edges and striking lines conceived for those who want elegant styling and performance in a car. The latest Audi SUV, the Q8, is a four-door, five-seater with frameless doors and coupe styling.

Regardless of models, every Audi car inherits the carmaker’s engineering excellence. “Our engineers are constantly working on innovative technologies, and premium products and services, for the future of mobility,” Venter emphasises. “Audi understands that the car of tomorrow must do more than just drive because it will be plugged into the digital world, and, to stay ahead, it is expanding connect services for all our models.”

(Related: 5 future car technologies that will be commonplace within a decade)

Audi’s latest technological platform is installed in all its full-size luxury class vehicles. They are equipped with the MMI touch response operating concept which is accessed on a console with high-resolution screens. It controls almost all vehicle functions and is as intuitive as a smartphone. The online voice control system also responds to a driver’s commands and can be activated from a button on the steering wheel.

The digital transformation journey has been taking place for Audi in Singapore, enhancing the retail experience of customers.

Its flagship showroom in Alexandra Road, the largest and tallest in South-east Asia, takes premium service to the next level. It has a special customer private lounge there with the latest virtual and augmented reality technology to give buyers the ability to visualise and specify an Audi of their preference. When it comes to aftersales, technical expertise here is also of the same high standards as at its headquarters in Germany. This ensures Audi cars in Singapore are in tip-top condition.

“We also have one of the most extensive CRM programme in the premium consumer segment for our car owners,” Venter points out. “As they have varied interests, we design activities tailored to specific owner groups, from bigger-scale events like our Audi quattro Cup golf tournament to exotic driving holidays around the world.”

Afterwards, as customers of Audi, they can be assured that their cars will not only take them home but drive them into the future.

(Related: Allowing Audi’s A8L AI technology take full control of the wheel)

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