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“The future of mobility is electric”

Interview with Markus Duesmann, CEO and Board of Management Member for Product Lines, AUDI AG

Audi is playing a major role in the Volkswagen Group in successfully creating the future of electric mobility. In the first part of our interview with Markus Duesmann, CEO and Board of Management Member for Product Lines at AUDI AG, we talk about what this means in practice and why the charging infrastructure is so important.

Mr Duesmann, electric mobility is gathering pace – what role is Audi playing in the electric mobility success story – what is your roadmap?

We sent out a clear signal in the industry with our early decision on a definite phase-out date for the combustion engine. The future of mobility is electric. Production of our final combustion engine model will cease in 2033. We plan to expand our fully electric line-up to more than 20 models by 2025. From 2026 then, we will only introduce all-electric models onto the global market.

Will the Audi grandsphere or the Artemis model replace the current A8?

We have made a firm commitment to the A8 with the current product upgrade. With its enhanced design and extensive new technology portfolio, it is ready for the second half of the life cycle. You can rest assured, therefore, that the A8 will remain the figurehead of the brand for a number of years to come.

You said to Handelsblatt (Editor’s note: 8 February 2021), at the beginning of last year that “We don’t want the sale of our vehicles to fail due to a lack of charging stations.” What do you say to customers who decide against purchasing an electric vehicle owing to the lack of infrastructure?

It’s definitely true that a comprehensive charging infrastructure is critical for ramping up electric mobility. While expansion of the infrastructure is progressing at a political level, the pace is too slow. That’s why we are also playing our part in Audi and the Group as a whole together with partners. In Europe, for example, our collaboration with IONITY is an important initiative that aims to push ahead with the quick-charging infrastructure along major routes. And we are making rapid progress in this respect. By the end of 2025, the Group will have been involved in the development of 45,000 quick-charging points globally together with partners.

Our first pilot of the Audi charging hub has already been connected to the grid in Nuremberg since the end of last year. The concept is our vision for premium charging in the future.

Markus Duesmann CEO and Board of Management Member for Product Lines, AUDI AG

Audi has additionally announced its own premium charging infrastructure. How is that project progressing?

The Audi charging hub is a complementary and above all quick way for us to develop charging infrastructure where it is needed in the urban context. Our first pilot of the Audi charging hub has already been connected to the grid in Nuremberg since the end of last year. The concept is our vision for premium charging in the future. Six quick-charging points can be reserved in advance by Audi customers. There is also a lounge area to make the charging time more pleasant. What is really special is that our charging points are open to everyone. We are launching a second pilot in Zurich in the summer.

Regardless of the charging infrastructure, however, surely decarbonisation of traffic is not possible without sufficient regenerative energy – how does Audi intend to supply green electricity to its electric car customers?

Yes, that’s true, the expansion in the use of renewable energies and the move away from fossil fuels is absolutely necessary and must be accelerated with urgency at a political level. Audi is playing its part in developing renewable energies. For example, we are investing in solar parks and wind farms together with partners. We are anticipating that such facilities will collectively generate around five terrawatts of green electricity by 2025. Our first project is already under development in northern Germany with RWE and is scheduled to be put into operation from this year. Yet, even if we do not have enough green electricity as yet, it still makes sense to relentlessly press ahead now with electric mobility. Because when the time comes, as much as possible must already be switched to electrically powered operation.

What role is hydrogen playing in your planning?

While the fuel cell is a fantastic technology, I don’t see it playing a major role in passenger cars. With the high efficiency losses in transport and conversion of green hydrogen, electric mobility is clearly superior. In addition, other mobility and industry sectors such as the steel industry, for example, are more urgently in need of green hydrogen than the automotive industry.

To what extent could alternative fuels contribute to meeting EU climate targets (– and thus delay the phasing out of the combustion engine)? What is Audi’s position on this?

Synthetic fuel produced from regenerative sources can be a good solution for the existing fleet of vehicles and for air traffic, which has not been possible to electrify to date. As with hydrogen, however, the electric drive is far superior in this case too in terms of efficiency. E-fuels therefore play an important role in reducing CO₂ emissions in the interim – but we are fully committed to battery electric vehicles in the long term.

In the second part of our interview with Markus Duesmann, you can read about the ecosystem Audi is planning for its electric models, which digital innovations drivers can expect and why autonomous driving is so desirable.

Vita

  • Markus Duesmann was born on 23 June 1969 in Heek, North Rhine-Westphalia. In 1991, he completed his studies of mechanical engineering at Muenster University of Applied Sciences with a degree in engineering.
  • He began his career in 1992 as a design engineer for a V12 series-production engine at Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart. In 1995, he moved to the development service provider FEV GmbH in Aachen, where he held various positions, the last of which was head of the engine mechanics division.
  • In 2004, he took over the position of main department manager for new diesel engines at DaimlerChrysler AG in Stuttgart, and in 2005 became head of Formula 1 development at Mercedes-Benz in Brixworth in the United Kingdom.
  • In 2007, Markus Duesmann moved to BMW AG as head of Formula 1 powertrain. After holding several responsible positions at that company, he was Board of Management Member for Purchasing and Supplier Network at BMW AG from October 2016 until July 2018.
  • The Supervisory Board of AUDI AG appointed Markus Duesmann as Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG effective 1 April 2020. Since then, he has also had Board of Management responsibility for Volkswagen Group Research and Development. Additionally he is entrusted with responsibility for the China business of AUDI AG and with Board of Management responsibility for Product Lines at AUDI AG.

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Status: 03.05.2022

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