Go e-tron, Go, Go, Go

What more does one need than approximately 940 kilometres of range, out of which 50 can be covered purely electric, and 205 horsepower? Six cylinders, I would say. Okay, this is missing the sustainable point of the engineering effort. And it is technically impossible, as it will not fit onto the platform of the car. But it is not missing the emotional fun point.

So here is our plea to you aspiring engineers: As a compromise, why not use the award-winning 5-cylinder turbo motor which will fit this platform? What is more, this engine is the direct descendant of the legendary ur-quattro 5-cylinder with its charismatic warbling soundtrack.

Okay, adjustments need to be made here and there to make the impossible possible. In other words: Please, find a way to overcome the problem with the 5-cylinder engine being too powerful for front-wheel-drive.

Dear engineers, you as the masters of magic: Cannot you find a way to make it this work? You know, we car addicts would like to have our cake and eat it. This is poetic licence, I know. But as a poet who can twist my words, cannot you twist your technology? And make this your first ur-quattro-e-tron? Nice thought, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, here is what Rupert Stadler, CEO of AUDI AG, has to say about the company’s electrifying future …

Volle Ladung in die Zukunft

Audi Vorstandschef Rupert Stadler erläutert die Mobilitätsstrategie des Konzerns

Von Susanne Roeder

Wien – Auch Audi fährt jetzt elektrisch, nicht vollelektrisch sondern hybrid, mit der Kraft der zwei Herzen. Auf der Rennstrecke schon seit etlichen Jahren, im Straßenverkehr ab sofort. Als erstes Hybrid-Modell ist ab Sommer der Audi A3 e-tron bestellbar, in Deutschland zum Einstiegspreis von 37.900 Euro. Drei Aggregate bilden den Antriebsstrang des A3 Sportback e-tron: ein Vierzylinder TFSI Motor, eine E-Maschine und ein neu entwickeltes Sechsgang-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe.

Die Ingolstädter haben das Fahrzeug als effizientes Fortbewegungsmittel für den Alltag entwickelt. Rein elektrisch bewältigt der an der Steckdose aufladbare Plug-in Hybrid 50 Kilometer. Dahinter steckt die Erkenntnis, dass die Deutschen allgemein und auch Berufstätige im Durchschnitt maximal 40 bis 60 Kilometer pro Tag zurücklegen.

Ein gut gelaunter Rupert Stadler, der für Audi mit effizienter Hybridtechnologie an Bord bei den 24-Stunden Klassikern Le Mans und Nürburgring auf zwei prestigeträchtige Rennsiege hintereinander blicken kann, erläuterte, warum die Ingolstädter erst jetzt ein Modell mit kleinem Elektromotor anbietet. „Ich glaube einfach, dass der Kunde es honorieren wird, ein Auto zu bekommen, bei dem er auf nichts verzichten muss. Er kriegt hier ein tolles dynamisches Auto.“ Man habe hier die gesamte Entwicklungserfahrung hineingebracht. In der Tat ist das Fahrzeug derart ausgereift, dass es absolut unmerklich von einem Fahrmodus in den andern wechselt. Mit seinem „Doppelherz“ (Verbrenner und Elektroantrieb) als Motorisierung erfüllt der A3 die Anforderungen an eine Mobilität ohne Einschränkungen: Er kann bei Bedarf emissionsfrei fahren, bietet aber eine Reichweite von insgesamt mehr als 900 Kilometern. Reichweitenangst kommt gar nicht erst auf. Genauso wenig die Gefahr, nicht genügend elektrische Energie gebunkert zu haben, um in eine emissionsfreie Zone wie die Großstadt London kostenfrei fahren zu können. Denn mit einer der vier wählbaren Modi, dem „hybrid hold“, kann der Energiestatus in der Batterie für später gespeichert werden, wenn eine solche Stadtfahrt ansteht. Die Stellung „charge“, also Ladestellung, dient dazu, die Batterie beim Fahren möglichst schnell aufzuladen, S für S tronic erlaubt einen Boostvorgang, also das Abrufen von Energie zum Beschleunigen, die Position „auto“ schließlich nutzt die elektrische Energie im Zusammenspiel mit dem Verbrennungsmotor optimal und gewährleistet wenig Kraftstoffverbrauch auch auf längeren Fahrstrecken.

„Wir wollen das Segment der Plug-in Hybride auffüllen und als Hersteller auch anführen“, lautet Stadlers selbstbewusste Ansage. Und speziell zum A3 e-tron, einem Brot-und-Butter Auto für Audi: „Der A3 hat aufgrund seines stabilen Restwertes einen guten Wiederverkaufswert.“ Der Vorstandsvorsitzende ist deshalb überzeugt, mit diesem Auto eine „sehr gute Welle“ anzustoßen.

„Wir sind mit einer sehr offenen Attitüde an die e-Mobilität rangegangen“, erzählt Stadler. Jedes Jahr soll jetzt ein weiteres Modell als e-tron die Audi Hybridfamilie bilden. Als nächster kommt im Jahr 2015 das größte SUV, der Audi Q7, auf den Markt. Danach läuft speziell für den chinesischen und für Audi wichtigsten Markt der A6 Langversion e-tron vom Band. Die Palette wird bis zum A8 als Plug in Hybrid reichen. Im Premiumbereich gehe es um intelligente Modelle. Im gleichen Atemzug bekräftigte Stadler die Gewinnmarge bei Audi von acht bis zehn Prozent. Damit lägen die vier Ringe man bei den Massenherstellern weiterhin an der Spitze.

Und ein rein elektrischer Audi? „Das BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) wird bei uns in der zweiten Phase der Elektrifizierung kommen.“ Wann genau das sein wird, da hüllt sich der Vorstandsvorsitzende außer dem Hinweis auf „dann, wenn es passt und Sinn macht“ schmunzelnd in Schweigen.

 

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Sa Parlare Italiano? – Si, Certo!

Audi-Logo: Neues Corporate Design /Das neue Audi Markenlogo: Die Vier Ringe werden um den Markenkern "Vorsprung durch Technik" erweitert.Sapere AUDI-re

Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and the Italian way of life

Amazing things are happening in and around Ingolstadt.lamborghini-logo Imagine driving right into the centre of Munich into the Postpalast for the eve of the Audi annual press conference – what should first catch one’s attention? A Lamborghini! Beside it was a Ducati, the famous motorcycle brand that Audi acquired in 2012; much to the dismay of AMG. In November 2010 this highend modifier of Mercedes-Benz vehicles signed a contract for intensive marketingducati_logo cooperation with the motorcycle manufacturer and itself had encouraged Daimler to purchase the brand. Apart from Ferdinand Piëch being a fervent fan of these motor cycles, on a more rational basis Audi wants to oust BMW not only from its throne as premium car manufacturer but also compete with the Bavarians on two fast wheels. Besides, with the acquisition of Ducati Audi is continuing a great past. Back in the 1950ies, the NSU Motorenwerke AG, or simply NSU, in Neckarsulm used to be the world’s biggest producer of motor bikes. The factory resumed car production in 1957 with the NSU Prinz and engineered such technologically advanced, if commercially unsuccessful cars, as the NSU Ro 80 in the 1960ies. In 1969 VW bought the whole company and Neckarsulm briefly became the headquarters for Audi. Nowadays Neckarsulm coexists with Ingolstadt as German production sites for the premium cars with their increasingly Italian flavour.

Stell Dir vor, Du kommst zu Audi nach Ingolstadt – und denkst, Du seist in Italien. Or, in other words: Imagine driving to Audi in Ingolstadt and ending up in Italy.  A colourful parade of Lamborghinis, Ducatis and Audi cars lined the entrance to the Audi World in Ingolstadt. A similar scenario presented itself in Neckarsulm about two months later during the 124th Annual General Meeting of Audi AG. No doubt about it, Audi has has combined the Italian passion for design with its German dependability and fascination for hightech.italdesign_giugiaro_logo

By now the secret is no longer a secret: Audi has become Audi Group hosting four brands of world renown: The Audi cars as such heralding premium in every respect, the Italian lightweight sportscar Lamborghini, Ducati motor cycles and Italdesign Giugiaro. It therefore comes hardly as a surprise that the company has turned Italian. The overriding idea is is to combine Audi hightech with Italian design.

Quattro-phony - The Audi Family nowadays consists of four members. Lamborghini was the first to join Audi, back in 1998.

Quattro-phony – The Audi Family nowadays consists of four members. Lamborghini was the first to join Audi, back in 1998.

Giugiaro has designed cars for renowned car manufacturers, many of which have become icons of style. One just has to think of the Lotus Esprit, the Lancia Delta and, of course, the first Golf and the Audi 80. The latter, incidentally, was the first Audi that Ferdinand Piëch, then CEO of technology, gave to his wife Ursula. In fact, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche initiated groundbreaking innovations,  most notably the permanent “quattro” all-wheel drive in 1980 and the diesel direct injection TDI in 1989. Having reached an age where most people enjoy their years of retirement Piëch is still presiding over Volkswagen Group. However, the one person he fully trusts is his wife Ursula. The patriarch and most powerful man in the car industry has consequently bequeathed his industrial inheritance to her.

We are Family …

After being elected member of the supervisory board of Volkswagen AG in April 2012, just one year later,

Ursula Piëch - most influential lady in the car industry.

Ursula Piëch – most influential lady in the car industry.

Ursula Piëch has also joined the supervisory board of Audi AG.  The VW Group no doubt has essentially become a family affair with the Porsche and Piëch family members holding the majority of shares. Presenting herself to the shareholders in a short and rather personal speech, the former nursery school teacher and governess was refreshingly outspoken about her liaison with Ferdinand  and how she became involved with cars. “I have always been curious and thus have had a vested interest in every new car or development.” She went on to narrate that her first Audi was an Audi 80, which as she remembers caused derisive smiles by the public. The same applied to the introduction of the four-wheel drive “quattro”. Audi was anything but a premium brand at that time. Undoubtedly, the rise of the clever, discreet and yet outspoken 57 year old Austrian has only just begun. She is surely on her way to becoming the most influential lady in the car industry, even more so, should VW really become the biggest car manufacturer worldwide, a target that CEO Martin Winterkorn has proclaimed for 2020. No sooner had Ursula Piëch stepped out into public, than she overtook two mighty females in the car industry, namely Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler presiding over the huge supplier carrying her name and Susanne Klatten, BMW heiress and Germany’s wealthiest female ever.

As for Audi, with almost breathtaking speed the car manufacturer has managed to develop from a more or less non-descript VW annex in the 1960ies and 1970ies to a fully fledged autonomous and leading premium car manufacturer.

The Audi Way

And in spite of the overall tense economic situation, especially in Europe, Audi is growing  against the tide, achieving one record after another. From January to 30th April 2013 sales have risen yet again. Approximately 503.000 cars have been sold, resulting in an increase of 6.7 percent. Another record: For the first time in the Audi history the company has passed the 500.000 mark after just four months. These impressive figures are not least due to the popular SUV family Q3, Q5 and Q7. And CEO Rupert Stadler confidently announced further growth for the months ahead: “We want to and will continue to grow.”

On the fast lane: Another member of the RS family and premiere for  a member of the SUV family. The RS Q3 has 310 hp (420 Nm) and a maximum torque of 5,200 rpm.

On the fast lane: Another member of the RS family and premiere for a member of the SUV family. The RS Q3 has 310 hp (420 Nm) and a maximum torque of 5,200 rpm.

Audi is quite obviously mastering the tide against the odds. Spain has reached its lowest market volume since 1986, demand in Italy is back to the level of 1979. The automobile market as a whole has been thrown back by more than 33 years. In spite of all that, Audi has managed to grow, even in Europe. This growth has mainly been due to the United Kingdom where Audi in 2012 achieved a new sales record of more than 123.000 cars and an increase of seven percent compared with the year before. Even in Germany Audi managed to grow by 3.6 percent and for the first time has captured the throne on the home turf  of the “big three” to become premium brand number one ahead of BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Susanne Roeder

©roe