Audi boss predicts 2020 sales slide; seeks to recapture tech lead

How are points heading now?July, August and September look really excellent. September was the strongest

How are points heading now?
July, August and September look really excellent. September was the strongest [product sales] month of the year – around the world. Things are heading particularly very well in China, where we even expect a compact maximize for the whole year. But we are not building up for the large losses from April and May perhaps of this year, despite the fact that our product sales corporation has carried out a definitely excellent work.

When will you be again at pre-disaster amounts?
That will consider a even though for a longer time. Ideal now, there are nevertheless quite a few international locations where consumer reluctance persists. I expect it will be about two several years ahead of the normalization is entire.

You are Audi’s CEO, R&D chief and China manager, the head of R&D at Volkswagen Group, supervisory board chairman at Lamborghini and Ducati, and have major roles at the Artemis job for a self-driving EV and the Car.Software package corporation. Can a person human being do all that?
Our system is to breathe life into the assert Vorsprung durch Technik (German for Improvement By way of Technology) and give it increased clarity. That’s why we released the Artemis job and created the Car.Software package corporation at the company level. It tends to make perception that I would have obligation for R&D. The construct suits this objective really very well and it works beautifully, even if it is by natural means really demanding for me to offer with all these matters very well. But unique situations have to have unique actions. And these are really unique situations for the auto sector. It’s a excellent thing that I have a potent staff handling these troubles.

You are Audi’s seventh R&D chief due to the fact 2012. How prolonged do you intend to maintain that title?
I will do it right until I believe there a excellent resolution to the succession situation. You can not change the fact that the company has had turbulent situations, particularly in development. That was surely not suitable. Now I will do all I can to make positive anything runs significantly improved in the foreseeable future and we present continuity all over again in the R&D spot.

You are becoming deemed a potential successor to VW Group CEO Herbert Diess. Is this the subsequent action in your profession?
I am obviously ruling that out. This is my aspiration work, and I am as satisfied as can be at Audi. I am relocating from Munich to Ingolstadt appropriate now, and I want to keep below. This is my company.

What lessons are you drawing from the pandemic? Are you building improvements to your source chain to steer clear of bottlenecks in the foreseeable future?
I am inclined to feel that the provider framework has proven how robust it is. We strike a bump or two, but all our suppliers fundamentally done beautifully. Everything labored amazingly very well. The relaunch was relatively difficulty-free of charge in this regard. I am definitely satisfied with the cooperation. I see no require to make any key improvements.

Daimler and BMW have intensified their price tag-cutting systems throughout the disaster. Audi suggests it is nevertheless only cutting the nine,five hundred jobs that have been already agreed upon ahead of the pandemic.  Will that be ample?
Practically nothing is planned past that. And we are sticking with the employment promise right until 2029.

And no far more quick-time operate in Germany irrespective of the reality most of the momentum is coming from China, where you already have a variety of factories?
Our German vegetation also advantage from product sales in China due to the fact the volumes that Europe supplies to the country are also climbing. But it is correct that the European vegetation generally rely on Europe, and demand from customers is nevertheless restrained below. Thankfully, our vegetation in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm are undertaking very well. We even extra unique shifts in September. We are really self-assured and aren’t preparing any far more quick-time operate for this year.

And for 2021?
We can only hope there is just not yet another coronavirus wave. That would be terrible. We are self-assured about subsequent year usually.

There has just been a apparent uptick in the demand from customers for electric vehicles. So much, Audi only has the e-tron and e-tron Sportback in its lineup, with the e-tron GT and the This autumn e-tron coming in 2021. Are you too late to advantage from the boom?
A minimal previously wouldn’t have been terrible. The topic has picked up really a bit of steam these days. I feel we will nevertheless be on time. We will have twenty battery-electrical types by mid-10 years. That places us in an outstanding situation.

What accurately are you preparing?
We are coming out with at minimum a person new battery-electrical car or truck just about every year — and that is in a assortment of classes and segments. We will be building offers alongside the whole breadth of our portfolio.

What is on the way specially?
We aren’t conversing about that nevertheless. For now, I am just on the lookout ahead to the e-tron GT, which will access the industry in early 2021. The car is a sensational merchandise. It’s heading to be my most loved car.

And your subsequent company car?
Of training course!

And how prolonged will interior combustion engines survive?
I feel it will be a even though. The foreseeable future of the interior combustion engine will in the end be a political dilemma, and it would not be resolved during the world at the similar time. So, it certainly tends to make perception for diverse markets to turn to electrical mobility as very well as modern day, very successful interior combustion engines.

At Audi as very well?
We have a really systematic electrical system. But for the foreseeable foreseeable future, quite a few of our clients will continue to want an interior combustion engine. So we will maintain performing on their effectiveness. It is nevertheless our target to be CO2 neutral by 2050 in line with the Paris local weather accord. We are dedicated to it.

Does that also apply to diesels?
Out of all the interior combustion powertrain, diesels are by much the most successful. But because of to exhaust cure, they have also turn into really costly and are not an eye-catching alternative in each individual car or truck phase. But due to the fact quite a few of our clients nevertheless really like diesels, we will continue to supply them. 

What are you most on the lookout ahead to when the pandemic is in excess of?
Greeting individuals with a handshake all over again. I am a major lover of the handshake. I overlook it a large amount. It’s not the similar as anyone just nodding at me or bowing.