Audi plans to launch 30 electrified vehicles by 2025, two-thirds of them will be full-electric models. The battery-powered Audi e-tron 55 Quattro has a range of more than 400 km.
Volkswagen Group is in talks with other manufacturers on sharing the key technology underpinning its future Porsche and Audi electric cars as it seeks to build scale and spread development costs.
“There’s definitely interest,” Ulrich Widmann, head of development at Audi for the joint engineering project, said at a press briefing in Munich. “We’re having conversations. Sharing technology to generate scale effects is the only way to achieve the turnaround in electric cars, both economically and ecologically.”
Widmann declined to identify manufacturers who have shown interest in adopting the so-called Premium Platform Electric (PPE) underpinnings, which are being developed by Porsche and Audi as the basis for their full-electric vehicles starting in 2021.
“Given the huge research and development investment required for the transition to battery-electric vehicles, many smaller luxury names could be interested including Aston Martin, McLaren and Maserati,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean said. “You couldn’t rule out BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which would provide a German premium solution,” he added.
VW is making an unprecedented push to dethrone Tesla as the leader of premium electric cars while at the same time keeping at bay traditional rivals that include Toyota Motor and General Motors. VW’s mass-market electric technology will debut with the namesake brand’s ID3 hatchback.
Deals to share electric expertise are already advancing, with Ford Motor agreeing earlier this year to use VW’s main electric-car platform for a high-volume car in Europe. The pact is worth between $10 billion and $20 billion over six years and the manufacturers are in talks over adding a second model that would be based on VW technology.
Audi plans to launch 30 electrified vehicles by 2025, two-thirds of them will be full-electric models. The timeline is part of the effort by VW Group’s largest profit contributor to electrify its entire lineup, including compact models such as the A3.
Following the delayed start of Audi’s e-tron, based on tweaked technology from the brand’s combustion-engine underpinnings, the manufacturer will tap the Porsche Taycan’s J1 platform to introduce the high-performance e-tron GT toward the end of 2020. Audi’s Q4 e-tron will be based on another platform, the MEB, and produced starting in 2021 in Zwickau, Germany, alongside the ID3.
Audi’s presentation in Munich included a thinly veiled challenge to Tesla in the form of a futuristic design concept for a midsize sedan that could be launched “after 2021,” according to design chief Marc Lichte. He declined to comment on the exact timing and price, but the presentation left little doubt about the strategic importance of the project and that Tesla’s Model 3 is the prime target.
Still, Audi is struggling to reverse declining sales and risks falling further behind German rivals Mercedes and BMW if it doesn’t turn the corner soon. Talks with labour unions over cost cuts and the location of future car production have been dragging on for months.
The difficulties of complying with more complex emission tests that took effect last year have weighed on the manufacturer and labour officials have sharpened rhetoric against CEO Bram Schot. Parent VW could ill-afford a decline in Audi — a cash cow within the group — pledging to revive profits through 15 billion euros ($16.4 billion) in savings by 2022.
Earlier this year, Schot mapped out plans to cease making Audi’s iconic TT coupe and replace it with a battery-powered model. The next version of its flagship A8 sedan could also go emissions free.
Audi is also mulling an end to the $170,000 R8 supercar as it funnels spending into the rollout of 20 full-electric cars by 2025. Sales of electrified vehicles, including hybrids, are forecast to account for 40 per cent of deliveries by then.
Audi is targeting slightly higher deliveries and revenue this year, and an operating profit margin between 7 per cent and 8.5 per cent. That should shift to between 9 per cent and 11 per cent as early as next year, helped by a sales reorganization.
By Christoph Rauwald, Bloomberg