Audi to invest billions in innovation, sustainability and product development
Audi is about to embark on the biggest investment programme in its history. From 2015 through 2019, the Ingolstadt-based company plans to invest €24 billion in product development, technology and innovation.
Audi plans to meet stringent carbon-dioxide limits worldwide with a new generation of extremely economical combustion engines and alternative efficiency technologies. It also aims to introduce new features in areas of connectivity and driver assistance, while expanding its global production footprint.
The major carmaker also plans to develop new cutting-edge technologies and create additional production capacities worldwide in the next five years.
“We place top priority on sustainable growth. That’s why we are making large investments in the innovative areas of electric mobility, connectivity and lightweight construction,” stated Rupert Stadler, chairman of the board of management (CEO) of Audi AG.
The total investment volume of €24 billion comprises approximately €17 billion of investment in property, plant and equipment and €7 billion of capitalized development costs. “70 percent of all our investment in the next five years will flow into new models and innovative technologies,” explained Axel Strotbek, board of management member for finance (CFO).
“Despite the growth in total investment, we will keep a watchful eye on the upcoming challenges and exercise the required cost discipline,” he stated.
In order to fulfill the ambitious CO2 limits, the company is working not only on the next generation of fuel-efficient gasoline and diesel engines, but also on plug-in hybrids such as the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, which became available in certain markets at the end of 2014.
“We are constantly further developing alternative drive systems and focusing above all on connecting the car with its digital environment,” explained Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi board of management for technical development.
The car will communicate with the driver, the Internet, the infrastructure and other vehicles, while moving in an environmentally friendly manner. The new Audi TT is a pacemaker in terms of seamless connectivity. Its integrated Audi virtual cockpit, which merges a combination of instruments and an MMI screen into a central digital unit, sets new standards.
A few weeks ago, Audi presented the A7 Sportback h-tron quattro concept car at the Los Angeles Motor Show, demonstrating that the premium manufacturer has also mastered fuel-cell technology. “We can move into the series-production stage as soon as justified by the market and infrastructure,” stated Hackenberg.
By the end of the year 2020, Audi intends to expand its model portfolio from 50 to 60 models. A main focus will be on new models in the C and D segments. Audi also intends to expand the successful Q family.
Another important element of the investment program is the expansion of manufacturing structures in Germany and abroad: “The sites in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm are the basis for our international success. We therefore plan to make more than half of the total investment in Germany,” emphasized Strotbek.
The production plant in Ingolstadt is already being prepared for new models. Extensive rebuilding work will start also in Neckarsulm in 2015, in order to prepare the plant for the next generation of the Audi A8 luxury sedan.
Worldwide, the Audi Group’s workforce has now grown to the record size of 80,000 employees. In Mexico and Brazil, the company is investing in new plants so that it can fully utilize the growth potential of the American continent.
By 2020, the company aims to be the premium brand number one on a sustainable basis.