Audi To Become More Like Tesla – “More Agile, Faster And Taking More Risks”

2 years ago by Steven Loveday 49

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Stefan Knirsch, Audi’s board member in charge of technical development, spoke at the Geneva Motor Show about the company’s push to invest greatly into electric and autonomous cars.

Audi Q7 e-tron quattro

Audi Q7 e-tron quattro

By 2025, the automaker plans to have a 500 km (310 mile) range family sedan that boasts a 15-minute charge time. The goal is for its cost to mirror a conventional gas model.

Volkswagen CEO, Matthais Müller, said the company should “think more like Tesla.”

Knirsch responded:

“The point about learning from Tesla is increasingly less relevant in some ways: in Silicon Valley terms they are not considered fast moving or risk takers, and less so as they have to invest in manufacturing facilities and focus on profits. They are becoming more conventional in those ways.

“It’s also true that in some areas we are going very fast. Our MMI infotainment screen systems are leading the way, and we are working with leaders like Nvidia and Harmann to put systems in our cars that can have the hardware updated every few years. In a very short space of time, we have shown we can be agile on electronics; the key for us is to be more agile in every area.”

Knirsch concluded:

“There are things we can learn from Silicon Valley, but also things they could learn from us.”

Source: Autocar

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49 responses to "Audi To Become More Like Tesla – “More Agile, Faster And Taking More Risks”"

  1. Big Solar says:

    I hope so.

  2. Anon says:

    Better late than never?

    1. evcarnut says:

      In this case better Never…. l o l …

  3. R.S. says:

    Oh by 2025? Is it going to be more like the Model 3, or just like the Model S? Both mirror the price of their german rivals pretty well…

  4. Three Electrics says:

    2025 is ridiculous.

  5. Speculawyer says:

    LOL . . . you yammered about ETrons before finally delivering one. And the one you finally delivered isn’t as good as the Volt but costs much more. Try harder.

    1. evcarnut says:

      It will be 0ut dated by 8yrs & it will cost you your right arm & your 1st born….It should sell well;;;;;LMA0

    2. Dan says:

      The A3 e-Tron and its sister, the GTE are among the best selling electric cars in Europe. What’s with the FUD?

  6. Speculawyer says:

    “By 2025, the automaker plans to have a 500 km (310 mile) range family sedan that boasts a 15-minute charge time. The goal is for its cost to mirror a conventional gas model.”

    The only part of that which may be accurate is that we’ll probably have to wait until 2025 for something.

    1. TomArt says:

      Sad, but could very well be true…

  7. jerryd says:

    By 2025 they will be the last ones to do it!! Not very innovative there.

    1. TomArt says:

      Nah, they’ll always have FIAT/Chrysler group to be worse and last than every other automaker in terms of sustainable transportation…

      1. R.S. says:

        An ambitious promise FCA would be, we still exist in 2025.

      2. jerryd says:

        Tom, I think RS has it right, unlikely FCA will still be a going concern in 2025.

    2. cynic says:

      Get real. To what extent do you hold your own employer to the standards you pretend to impose on car makers? Yourself? Friends and family?

      Among mainstream manufacturers, Nissan/Renault were the first to recognize that a switch to electric cars is necessary. So they saw a market opportunity and decided to invest in EV technology. I think they’ve been surprised by how slow governments have been to enact effective policies that actually get people to choose EVs (Norway being a notable exception), and it seems to me they probably lost money on bringing the LEAF to market in 2010 rather than wait a bit longer. As “a fan of the planet” I’m obviously very glad that they did, but that is not the same thing as saying they made the optimal business decision.

      It is childish to imagine Audi/VW as any more or less fundamentally “evil” than Nissan/Renault. Neither is good or evil. They’re just corporations without purpose or intent except as means to generate return on investment. Audi/VW made different judgements than Nissan/Renault with regards to what was the most profitable course of action. The former took a big risk when it chose to cheat on emissions tests, even an unusual one if the leadership was fully aware that it was not merely unethical but in fact illegal. On EVs they decided to postpone and undermine them – rather than undermine the value of their patent portfolios relating to fossil-car technology. If you naïvely expect a company to be working for you, when you are not the owner, you can say that was the wrong decision. If you realize how businesses work it looks like it was a pretty good decision.

      There is little reason to doubt that cars will be big business far beyond 2025, and every reason to think that Audi/VW have a lot of the required skills to be a big part of it. The supposed fact that they didn’t understand EVs would be the future until now makes sense when you consider things from their point of view. You cannot very well decide to undermine green cars for the sake of profits and SAY SO publicly – that would not be good for profits. It is true that Audi has been hurt significantly by Tesla in the US luxury segment, but that is after all a small part of Audis global business.

      By the way, Tesla may just be different – at least as long as Elon can control it. But even they are a public company and legally obliged to serve the interests of its shareholders – NOT those of society at large (except when they happen to coincide).

      To me, it looks like 2025 is likely to be near the optimal time for a traditional manufacturer to seriously enter the EV game. By then EVs will hopefully account for a meaningful share of the market – a pitiful 0.1% in 2015.

      The real problem isn’t companies that won’t serve the public good (that’s never going to happen; how much do YOU do for the public good? how motivating is it, compared to what’s good for you and those near you? it’s just not human nature to sacrifice oneselves for the anonymous masses!) OR that consumers won’t choose the right thing (for the same reasons). It’s that governments haven’t set up markets so that what’s profitable for individual corporations and consumers is the same thing that’s profitable for society at large.

  8. CDAVIS says:

    By 2025 Tesla and Apple will have eaten over 50% of Audi’s today’s market share…because Audi is organizationally not capable of going “all in” on the EV front.

    1. Braben says:

      I doubt very much that either Tesla or Apple will be able to even produce anywhere near 50% of the volume in 2025 that Audi does.

      1. Brad says:

        Tesla already crushes Audi in sales in its class. Tesla is the only car company prepping to sell EVs in mass market numbers by building the Gigafactory while dinosaur companies like Audi get left far behind.

        Audi’s statement about what they will eventually have, an entire decade from now, proves how totally clueless they are about EV tech.

        1. Bone says:

          Audi is producing about 1.7 million cars per year. Tesla is aiming to produce 0.5 million when Gigafactory is running at full capacity. They would need a second Gigafactory before they can reach 50% of Audi’s current capacity. Not likely by 2025.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Tesla is growing its production at, what, about 45% per year? So I will be very surprised indeed if they don’t exceed Audi’s production before 2025.

            A second Gigafactory by 2025, or even before? No problem. Perhaps you haven’t heard that Tesla has renamed the project “Gigafactory 1”, underscoring the plan to keep expanding after 2020-2021.

            1. Bone says:

              There is always ups and downs. Growth rate of 45% per year for ten years in a row is highly unlikely.

          2. Brad says:

            Wrong. Tesla is already planning multiple Gigafactories in other countries.

            Try doing some research.

            Tesla will continue to easily crush Audi in sales in its class and Audi has now proven that they are far, far behind in tech and will only continue to fall even further behind with their dinosaur plans.

        2. cynic says:

          You are speaking narrowly of the US market, and only the segment where Tesla is currently competing.

          I think the Bolt has the potential to rock the boat, but it’s not a sure thing that it will. Even if it’s a huge success, it’s not going to be a big part of even the US market, nevermind the global one.

          EVs accounted for 0.1% of global auto sales in 2015. The Ford sold more F-150 pickup trucks in September than Teslas various offerings combined did in the whole year.

          So please, be a tad bit realistic. It is true that Audi aren’t getting into the BEV game as early as some competitors (even though they do have PHEVs today and many on the way). But they are getting into the game before it’s a big part of the overall game, probably just as it is about to become so.

          Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big BEV advocate. The reason I say this is I believe that the thinking that focuses on corporate and consumer action, rather than changing the game itself so that it becomes rational for corporations and consumers to do the right thing, is the biggest obstacle to meaningful change. The environmental concerns, including but not limited to climate change, require a shift in thinking and makes it necessary to develop markets where the price attached to a choice reflects the true cost. It’s never going to happen that a company works for the public, unless the public owns it (and even then I’m not too sure – the historical attempts at common ownership didn’t go well for the environment or the public). What is desperately needed is a “capitalism as if the world matters”. Speaking of good or evil companies is a silly and damaging distraction.

  9. Tapaskoch says:

    Hybris – not realizing how someone else could possibly be eating their lunch – too late and not committed to radically change their way of operating

  10. Rich says:

    “It’s also true that in some areas we are going very fast. Our MMI infotainment screen systems are leading the way,”

    Aren’t German luxury cars supposed to be technically advanced. Isn’t “technical prowess” one of the reasons people pay ridiculous money for these vehicles. According to the quotes, their technical prowess led them to an “MMI” infotainment system. – this has got to be an early April Fools joke.

  11. Braben says:

    I think 15 minutes charge time for a couple hundred miles is close to the threshold that would make pure EVs really practical. I’m wondering how far away we really are from that.

    1. Brad says:

      By 2025, Tesla will already have EVs that go further on a charge than anyone could drive in a day so fast charging won’t be meaningful. EVs will be charging in zero effective time while you sleep.

      1. pjwood1 says:

        It took 2.5 years to bump the existing pack size by 5kwh. How can we be so sure we won’t be 110kwh (~250 cold miles), in 2025?

        Charging networks will look cheap enough that my bet is Tesla is at, or well above, delivering 150kw instead of the limited 115kw delivery rates which are common today.

        I don’t go past 300 miles, much. Tesla’s cars and network already have this covered well, as far as I’m concerned.

      2. Braben says:

        You seem to assume that overnight-charging will always be available. But I don’t think that will ever be the case. There won’t be chargers in every lamp post for people who have no garage and park their cars on the street. And if you are traveling, there will not always be a convenient charger where you stay.

        To be truly practical in the same way that gasoline vehicles are, it must be possible to charge them quickly, preferably in a time that is short enough so you can wait by the car (rather than hogging a charger for hours).

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Well, we’re already at (optimally) 150 miles of range from a 30 minute charge, using a Tesla Supercharger; so that’s 5 miles of ranger per minute. 200 miles in 15 minutes would be 13.333 miles per minute, or 2.6667 times as fast… 2.6667 times the current, or actually a bit more due to the law of diminishing returns.

      That’s certainly well within the limits of electrical engineering, altho unless the car has a pack with a much higher capacity than needed for a 200 mile range, it will need batteries capable of being charged significantly faster than the ones currently (pun intended) in use.

      As always, the pace of advancement of the EV revolution is constrained by the rate of advancements in commercialized battery tech.

  12. Someone out there says:

    By 2025? If they don’t have it by 2020 Audi won’t even make it to 2025!

    1. Someone out there says:

      If they don’t have it by 2020 they are NOT thinking like Tesla. Tesla is about pushing the technology forward, not sitting on the bench waiting for other people to push forward and then be the last one to market.

  13. Stimpy says:

    MMI doesn’t hold a candle to the Tesla media stack. Who do they think they are fooling but themselves?

    1. pjwood1 says:

      perhaps the single untrue statement. Somewhere in the philosophy of “stacking” functions under menus, Tesla chose to get behind.

  14. Three Electrics says:

    There are old car companies, and there are bold car companies, but there are no old, bold car companies.

  15. Angelo says:

    OK Tesla, can you top this? Even if it is only Audi’s dream, [and not real] Tesla should respond competitively.

    1. Brad says:

      Audi just admitted they admitted they are 15 years behind Tesla.

      By 2025 Tesla will have a car that can go further on a single charge than virtually anyone could even drive in a day.

      So, yes, Tesla completely topped Audi in the future just like it tops them today.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Why in the world should Tesla be worried? Audi is taking aim at where Tesla is now, and hopes to get there in another nine years. They’re not aiming at where Tesla will be in nine years!

      1. Braben says:

        Tesla isn’t capable of building the car that Audi is describing at cost parity with today’s family sedans, and they probably won’t be for years. If and when demand for EV car develops as we all hope, the big manufacturers will easily keep up with them. Tesla doesn’t have anything that the others don’t have access to as well, and they have nowhere near the R&D budget or experience in producing cars.

  16. Brad says:

    So Audi admits they are about 15 years behind Tesla.

    By 2025 Tesla will have a car that can go further on a single charge than virtually anyone could even drive in a day.

    Audi just confirmed its dinosaur status.

  17. Jason says:

    To paraphrase: Tesla is conventional, and we’re fast moving because we an infotainment system.

    Lol. That hilarious statement made my day.

  18. tosho says:

    Every time I hear a german say the word “agile” I shiver with fear 🙂 I’ve worked on many software projects with such people and for them “agile” usually means keeping their bureaucracy, pedanticity, unrealistic deadlines, bloated management and only ditching the clear requirements of the project. Those people will never understand Silicon Valley. They are just an arrogant relic of the past that is already dying…

  19. Sommer says:

    What happened to the Audi R8 e tron? A view months ago Audi made big announcements and where is the R8 e tron now?

    1. mr. M says:

      Hu? What do you mean? You can already order them since a year ago…

  20. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    As they say: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

    So Tesla is sincerely flattered.

  21. pjwood1 says:

    Audi just wrote off 228 million euros, for its small share of diesel-gate. That would have paid for a US fast-charge network, like Tesla’s. VW reports April 28.

  22. Adolph says:

    Vee vill conquer zem!

  23. Nix says:

    VW/Audi has a logistical problem that limits how agile they can be. They have dealerships.

    If Tesla wants to roll out a new feature, they just start listing it as an option on their website. If people want it, they order it, and Tesla builds them. When Tesla wants to drop something, they simply remove the option from their website, and poof it is gone.

    VW/Audi can’t do that. They have complex relationships with dealerships, and they have to build up stock so it can be on dealer lots. Very few of their vehicles are actually built to customer specs, they are pre-built.

    So even if they wanted to offer a new feature, they would have to plow through 60 or 90 days worth of stock on dealer lots, plus whatever they have in their own factory lots, and whatever is in transit, and whatever is sitting pre-positioned at a port in New Jersey.

    1. Braben says:

      The problem is that the direct sales model doesn’t scale well. If Tesla ever wants to cater the mass market, they will need something comparable to dealerships as well.