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Audi’s transition to electric vehicles: CEO discusses plans for the future

BusinessAutomotiveAudi's transition to electric vehicles: CEO discusses plans for the future

Audi is currently in a state of transition as it aims to establish a strong presence in the electric vehicle market, just as it has in the gasoline era. This was revealed by CEO Markus Duesmann in an interview ahead of the company’s annual news conference on Thursday. Audi is set to launch its first vehicle based on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) in the latter half of this year. Duesmann stated that the German carmaker expects the PPE, which was developed in collaboration with Porsche, to enable it to become a leading provider of “connected, fully electric premium mobility”.

Audi delivered 118,196 fully electric vehicles in 2022, up 44 percent from the previous year. This accounted for 7.2 percent of the total deliveries in the year, up from 4.8 percent in 2021. However, the models were less successful in China, the largest market for new energy vehicles. Duesmann became more aware of this after his recent trip to the country, during which he listened to Audi employees and representatives from Chinese partners FAW and SAIC and test drove competitive electric models available in the market. He said China has a “clear and high” position on the company’s strategy and will drive its development in the new era.

The Q6 e-tron will be imported into China in 2024 and then locally produced at its Changchun plant in Northeast China’s Jilin province later that year. Duesmann said the locally made models will adopt China-specific electrical architecture and connectivity features developed by its growing Beijing team to appeal to tech-savvy Chinese customers. Audi is set to invest two-thirds of its outlays, or around 28 billion euros ($29.8 billion), in the future fields of electrification and digitalization from 2023 to 2027.

Audi is scheduled to offer 10 electric models by 2025, which will enable it to offer a balanced lineup of electric and gasoline vehicles. However, Audi China President Juergen Unser acknowledged that the carmaker has “homework to do” in the NEV sector in the country. He said the current electric Audi models are designed based on their gasoline siblings but Chinese customers expect EVs to be different from gasoline ones in the first place. Nevertheless, Unser is optimistic about the forthcoming PPE models and believes they will bring Audi back to the pole position it has enjoyed over the past decades.

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