German automaker Audi, a member of the Volkswagen Group, announced at its annual meeting on Wednesday that it plans to build 20 new models of electrified cars by the year 2025, most of them to be battery-powered vehicles.
Audi said it has earmarked an investment of €40 billion (US$47.6 billion) for manufacturing the planned electrified cars, developing a new app platform for its cars, and building a new self-driving vehicle fleet for launch in 2021.
Revealing that the investment represents nearly two years of revenue for Audi, the automaker said that a part of the investment will also go towards developing sustainable factories.
Audi plans new production launches every three weeks, new segments and drive technologies, and new organizational structures, company officials say.
"2018 is a key year for Audi with an enormously high speed of change, that will gradually put us back on the offensive," said Rupert Stadler, chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG.
Audi has been struggling, along with other members of the Volkswagen Group, to move past a software emission cheating scandal that began in September 2015, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to the Volkswagen Group.
The agency had found that the company had intentionally programmed turbocharged direct injection diesel engines to activate their emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing which caused the vehicles' NOx output to meet U.S. standards during regulatory testing, but emit up to 40 times more NOx in real-world driving.
Volkswagen deployed this programming software in about 11,000,000 cars worldwide, and 500,000 in the United States, in model years 2009 through 2015.
"We will continue clearing up the diesel crisis and will restructure large parts of our global organization for the course we have set for the future," Stadler said. "At the same time, we are approaching the climax of the biggest model fireworks in our company's history and are entering the age of electric mobility with the Audi e-tron."
As the brand’s first fully electric volume model, the Audi e-tron SUV will have its world premiere at the Audi Summit in Brussels on August 30.
Audi has announced plans to make its production facilities carbon-neutral by 2030, the Belgian factory where the e-tron will be built is. carbon neutral now.
With the rapid expansion of the portfolio of fully electric cars and plug-in hybrids in each model range, the company aims to sell approximately 800,000 electrified automobiles per year by 2025.
For the production version of the Audi e-tron prototype, customers will for the first time be able to book various functions flexibly online. In total, the brand aims to generate an annual contribution to operating profit of €1 billion with digital services via the myAudi customer portal by the year 2025.
Audi is also developing an integrated IT platform for vehicle connectivity and digital services. By means of a shared high-performance backend, the models from Audi and the other brands of the Volkswagen Group will be usable compatibly. This means that customers’ settings and content can be transferred smoothly between the automobiles of the various Group brands.
"We want to have premium electric cars and digital services that are also attractive in economic terms. That is our clear ambition for the mobility of the future,"explains Alexander Seitz, Member of Audi's Board of Management for Finance, IT and Integrity.
"To that end," said Seitz, "we are utilizing Group synergies significantly more effectively and are releasing resources for strategy projects with our Action and Transformation Plan."
With its new Action and Transformation Plan, Audi aims to achieve positive earnings totaling €10 billion by 2022 through reduced costs and new sources of revenue.
By Sunny Lewis
Environment News Service (ENS)
May 14, 2018