Audi Says Its Experience Will Help Automaker Surpass Tesla On Electric Car Front


Audi e-tron Quattro Concept

Audi e-tron quattro concept

Audi plans to use its vast experience to push past Tesla in the EV market in the years ahead. The company believes that German automakers will increase range drastically by 2020, making vehicles more attractive and creating true competition for Tesla. Architect of Audi’s electric car engineering, Stefan Niemand, said:

Audi e-tron quattro concept - Interior

Audi e-tron quattro concept – Interior

“For over 100 years, automobiles have always gotten better. Drivers won’t adopt electric cars if they’re seen as smaller, uglier and more expensive.”

Audi, Volkswagen Group’s biggest player, intends to begin sales of its first fully electric vehicle in 2018. Niemand says that the company’s mass production strategies will make the costly venture a success.

Nissan still dominates the market with the LEAF, as it is cost effective and widely available, however it’s a compact car and rarely gets notice for its “good looks”. The Tesla Model S is the “go to” car for sporty, high-performance, long-range, all-electric, full-size sedans. There really is nothing on the market that compares to it yet. It is pricey at around $70,000 for a base model.

Audi e-tron Quattro Live At CES 2016 In Las Vegas This Week (InsideEVs/T. Moloughney)

Audi e-tron Quattro Live At CES 2016 In Las Vegas This Week (InsideEVs/T. Moloughney)

Tesla now has upwards of 400,000 reservations for the upcoming Model 3, which will be much more affordable than the Model S. CEO Elon Musk assures that Tesla will be making 500,000 cars a year by 2018. Niemand believes that Audi can challenge that, all the while using better materials. He said:

“Tesla lacks experience with classical auto manufacturing. We have different experiences.”

Audi A1 e-tron

Audi A1 e-tron

VW Group sold about 10 million vehicles in 2015, and nearly all of them were been ICE. The company only has two electric options so far. One is the Up city car and the other an electric VW Golf. However, the company is reporting plans to introduce 30 electric vehicles by 2025, with about 3 million electric vehicles sold per year by that time. Colin McKerracher, Bloomberg New Energy Finance Analyst, explained:

“Audi and the VW Group are well positioned here. Groups like VW, Toyota and others know how to crank out vehicles day-in-day-out on a global scale . . . Tesla definitely got the jump on the major car companies as demand for the Model S caught many of them by surprise, but by 2020 there will be a much larger number of long-range electric vehicles available.”

Many companies are coming forward with plans for the future, which include EVs. Many of the plans are forecasting 2020 as a starting point. There have been multiple companies reporting substantial developments by 2025 or 2030. While it is never too late, one can only hope that there is follow through, and as quickly as possible.

Source: Audi

Categories: Audi, Tesla


Leave a Reply

91 Comments on "Audi Says Its Experience Will Help Automaker Surpass Tesla On Electric Car Front"

newest oldest most voted

I’d love to see ANY automaker’s answer to Tesla 3. So far, only Bolt, which isn’t nearly as exciting. In fact, old carmakers would have to do significantly better than Tesla. People associate Tesla with cool new tech, and coal rolling with VW. They must overcome that perception.

“For over 100 years, automobiles have always gotten better. Drivers won’t adopt electric cars if they’re seen as smaller, uglier and more expensive.”

-Than how to explain the success of Audi? Two out of Three.


They should take the $15B in fines and invest in in electrification and the charging infrastructure. Just like NRG was required to do so when they were penalized.

Good! Tesla can’t make a billion cars a year on their own.

But until I see the rubber hit the road, this is nothing but hot air. Hell, this isn’t even a prototype or a one-off concept car. Audi should stop talking about what they “could” do, what they “should” do, and start actually doing. What are they trying to do here anyway? Prop up their stock value?

+1 With all the announcements they made for years, there is still not one single competitive Audi BEV on the road.

Exactly. Audi is the worse in this, they talk the most out of the traditional automakers (with a boatload of EV concepts), but so far they have nothing to show for it. BMW at least has a serious EV program already, and even Mercedes at least has a compliance car program.

And for good reason: the cost is still too high, and VWs modular platform not yet ready. There’s no profit to be made yet, so no point to rush if you’re in their position. (Tesla, having no existing, profitable ICE business to cannibalize is in a very different position.)

I don’t know what they can do. But I do believe we haven’t seen it yet.

They need to start laying the EV groundwork though for when then can turn a profit. And at Audi’s typical prices, I think they could turn a profit today. Several Audi sedans are already at Tesla prices.

“And for good reason: the cost is still too high”

That is strange, up to now I thought it was the customers that decided if a product was worth its cost.

For instance a dishwasher goes for 500 $ but to me it is worth way more than that and I would buy it at 10000 $ as well.

Hear, hear!

It’s a shame they wasted tens if not hundreds of millions trying to develop a practical H2 fuel cell car, isn’t it.

“…believes that German automakers will increase range drastically by 2020…” Unfortunately what they don’t seem to grasp is that with a ‘drastic’ increase in range will have to come an equally drastic increase in the power available to re-charge their long-range vehicles in a practical time frame. Not to mention any sort of super-rapid charging infrastructure, of course…

With all the hot air they keep spouting they should go into the zeppelin manufacturing business.

While it is great that the traditional auto makers are finally trying to build competitive EVs, it defies logic that they all claim that their mass-production expertise will guarantee them success when, so far, all that expertise has delivered is a promise they will release comparable vehicles 6 or more years after their main competition.


And have you noticed how great care ICE car makers take to never announce better specs than Tesla? Even for 5 or 6 years ahead.

Simply untrue. For instance, Porsche, Daimler and VW have all announced 350 kW charging and 15 minute recharging times.

Maybe Tesla can reinvent the way cars are manufactured and thereby unlock huge efficiency gains as Musk constantly hints (if not outright says). If so, they’ll perhaps be unbeatable and kill the incumbents one at a time. it’s hard to evaluate the factories against others. But the cars themselves, while innovative in several ways, probably don’t have any tech that would really be difficult for others to replicate – and less so when Tesla open sources all of its patents. 🙂

Tesla haven’t done anything wildly different with their patents. If you are developing a new technology it is not uncommon to offer patents for “free” for the first 5 years – the important thing is that you have to sign a license agreement. After 5 years you then pay royalties, sometimes even if the patent has lapsed or reached the end of its life.

Tesla are being very smart with their patents, it would be dumb to sit on them and not to try and make some external revenue.

You suggest something that just isn’t true. Tesla set the patents free unlimited for anybody.

I think Musk (and JB) were saying they were inventing new ways to make the batteries.

I don’t think there’s much room for improvement in the car assembly. Car/truck plants have been around many decades and optimized continuously.

Tesla sources its car assembly plant equipment from the same places that other auto companies source from.

Elon recently hinted at making the chain go must faster than 0.2 m/s. If robots assemble, the operation speed becomes a mere parameter that can be increased at will, or at least up to the point that the welding must have cooled enough so that strength is sufficient to move the part to the next step and paint is cured enough and glue (or hot melt) has stiffen enough to hold. Of course as parts speeds increase the dynamics of movement will start to interfere and the air friction on them will become significant, but ultimately that can be calculated to a high degree and taken into account. Sometimes it may even be beneficial as extra air flow cooling or by removing the need to temporarily hold things together since dynamics as so fast they don’t need to be hold anymore.

“The company believes that German automakers will increase range drastically by 2020”

I hope so. VW bought Quantumscape battery technology. Either Quantumscape was a long way from manufacturing or VW bought the technology to bury it. Since dieselgate, they’re finally taking BEVs seriously. At least, they’re leading people to believe they’re going to make great electric vehicles.
I don’t believe a word from VW/Audi. One thing is for sure, Tesla will continue to generate market pressure forcing these oil owned automakers to respond with their own appealing BEV offering or go extinct. I’m good with either outcome.

Glad to see the German automakers “innovating” here.

Translation: They got caught sleeping.

“Tesla lacks experience with classical auto manufacturing. We have different experiences.”

Classical Auto Manufacturing got us into the mess we’re in today…only making cars as fuel efficient as governments require, lobbying competition out of existence, and burying new tech in favor of more profitable oil.

I hope “Classical Manufacturing” goes away with the ICE.

“Classical Auto Manufacturing” is something you can buy relatively cheap. VW know that very well. If not they should ask Franz von Holzhausen…

I think you are confusing other topics with actually assembling the car, which is what VW was talking about.

Classic manufacturing means a swimmer trying to move with its clutch department weight on one leg, its gearbox department weight on the other leg, its engine department weight on one arm and its exhaust pipe department weight on the other arm. Chances are he will drown before he can get forward. Clean sheet electric car manufacturing means no weights at all and just a bit of training on the go.


There is no doubt in my mind that VW or Audi can make a better car than Tesla. Only question is if they are willing to do so and in large numbers.

I’ll bite. Why do you feel so confident in making that claim?

Obviously because of how good their diesels are and how they don’t need urea injection! Oh wait…

Yes, VW/Audi manufacture better engineered cars (sadly, mostly ICEs) than Tesla and were doing it profitably and at scale for almost a century.

Tesla is doing extremely well and I think they will likely match engineering and production capabilities of big car manufacturers in another 10 years (2-3 model generations). Engineering wise, they are somewhere between Chinese and Koreans makers but their strategy an marketing is top notch.

I expect in 5 years BEV niche to be large enough to deliver revenue comparable to the high end ICE market (just like what is happening now with hybrids). At that point we will see multiple models entering mass production and growth of a supply chain to support it. Whether we like it or not, most car makers are still treating BEV production as a research exercise, with a goal of being able to quickly ramp up the production when the time comes. Hopefully that’s enough time for Tesla to establish itself as a major player and stop relying on investments.

The problem for the incumbents is going to be that “I will sit out this exponentially-growing market until it crosses the profitability line, then wander in and take market share from the people who’ve been all in since day one and built the market” is not exactly a strategy that has stood the test of time. On the contrary, many of those who’ve pursued it in other fields are now to be found only in history books. It is prohibitively expensive to buy your way in late unless you hit your mark perfectly. Which nobody ever does.

“Audi Says Its Experience Will Help Automaker Surpass Tesla On Electric Car Front”

Yawn! Gee, we’ve never heard THAT before.

Fiat being the first that comes to mind.

“We could build a car better than Tesla, if we wanted to”. Heck, they would be doing well if they could just build a car better than Hyundai.

And this can’t be true because…?

You are omitting the second part in order for it to appear like Marchionne’s statement was an obvious lie – inviting readers to think “they haven’t done it, so they lied”. But they explained why they don’t – and it makes perfect sense. There’s no profits to be made, yet.

I have a hard time listening to Marchionne as well. His continued refusal to admit both that BEVs are important for the environment and that they are on track to beat ICE purely on cost and convenience by 2025-2030 seems contrived, as if he’s in denial.

But that doesn’t mean his claim that Fiat could make a better car than Tesla is necessarily false. And even if it is, he is certainly making a very relevant point when he says Tesla aren’t making any money either.

Not knowing how to do it affordably is the missing link. They are dinosaurs.

Tesla can do it with massive profits, and they move more metal than Porsche.

Fiat can’t make an EV without losing 14k per copy.

So much for all their great manufacturing know how. Wake me when they figure out how to tie their shoes. 🙂

Both Porsche and Tesla have profit margins that are the envy of the automotive industry. Tesla does NOT “move more metal” however, not by a long shot. 2015 global sales were 50,580 for Tesla vs 225,121 for Porsche.

I really believe in EVs (and drive one). I’m a great admirer of Tesla. So I get a bit squeamish when I see people use quite obvious inaccuracies to “promote” either. Especially since a well designed and built EV doesn’t require falsehoods to build a great reputation.

Looks like you’re correct.

Porsche sold way more vehicles than Tesla.

Even on the USA it’s on the order of 50k cars sold by Porsche vs 25k sold by Tesla.

My numbers were clearly way off. Oops.

My comment is that Fiat has failed repeatedly to even build the best ICE vehicles in their class. So if they are such a great company who can do anything better, why haven’t they already done so with their ICE vehicles?

FYI — This is Elon Musk fulfilling his entire plan for a global transition to EV drivetrains. Elon has never planned on Tesla taking on this global transition single-handed. His plan has always been to build an EV that is superior to ICE vehicles, in order to show an alternative to the slow, small, short range EV’s all the major car makers had been working on. Basically to FORCE them into building EV’s that are competitive with ICE cars, instead of just building compliance cars. If the EV revolution were left to just Audi/VW and the rest of the ICE car makers, they would probably be putting out only 75 mile range, relatively slow small economy cars for compliance, with no real plans on building ICE competitors. And EV’s would be the butt of every car enthusiast’s jokes, the way Top Gear made the G-Wiz into a running joke. Elon would be the first to welcome Audi/VW building EV’s that are not just an alternative fuel punishment vehicle, but cars that are clearly superior to their ICE competitors in their class. That’s how the switch to plug-in vehicles will happen. With plug-ins that are simply clearly superior to their ICE… Read more »

NAILED IT accurate and concise.

As usual, Nix masterfully sums up a broad view of the situation, putting Audi’s lack of achievement in the EV field into proper perspective.

Isn’t all of this hype with Audi still just vaporware?

Tom — Well, Audi/VW does actually have plug in vehicles that they sell right now. So I wouldn’t go so far as to use the “vaporware” word.

But they are very much deeply locked into the traditional gas car company mode of releasing concept after concept to generate buzz for them, with very few of those concepts making it to the market. This has long been a gas car game that all the major car makers engage in, and it just doesn’t play very well in the EV market.

We may complain about Tesla delays, but at least they don’t just build endless concepts.

The longest running example of this that I know of, is the long tease of the Land Rover Defender. They have been teasing that they will build a new Defender since the mid 1990’s when they were forced out of the US market due to airbags.


Mr. G & Pushy, Thanks!!

Beautifully said. Well done you!

Agree, nailed it. Thanks for saving me the typing. Adding to your main point, Audi/VW Group and the rest show no sign of understanding the rest of the equation: charging infrastructure battery tech and sustainable energy sourcing. Here Tesla has leads that the legacy automakers are unlikely to close anytime soon.

All of us EV lovers are lucky Tesla is pushing the envelope and not taking their foot off the “gas”.

Does Tesla have a lot of faults? Yes. But that is OK, because they will force the hands of those w/more experience.

Yes correct but I still would like Tesla to further the battery level higher toward 150 KWh instead of 90 KWh, even at a premium it would at least make an ev available that can beat a gas car on range as well.

As georges pointed out to me in another story, Elon said that the Gigafactory will be making a new larger battery format, roughly twice the size of the old format. (thanks to georges for the info).

At some point, I expect the Model S would get those batteries too, and I would expect a bump in kWh to come along with it.

Audi: put your money where your mouth is and PROVE that you can do better than Tesla.

A lot of words (again) with nothing to show for it. No product. No prototype. Absolutely nothing. Meaningless until and unless we see a product in some form, especially given their track record of dishonesty/dieselgate.

Oh, and not a word about charging infrastructure.

Looks to me like not only did they get caught sleeping, they’re still not fully awake.

Charging is always the elephant in the room

Yes, I do think that Audi and the VW group can make very good electric cars that will give Tesla a run for their money if they just put their mind to it. Making a car is more than stringing together a bunch of laptop batteries, the other parts of the car need to be high quality as well. Audi and the other car manufacturers know how to make those other parts.

Not even quiet sure of that because the other car parts are mainly done by their suppliers.

Anything coming out of VW Group is hogwash.

Especially the spew they put in their press releases saying they’re (the VW group) going to be the world leader in EVs.

Audi: S–t or get off the pot.

Didn’t Tesla just hire Audi’s A4 production mgr? LOL

Excellent point! It feels like this guy (Architect of Audi’s electric car engineering, Stefan Niemand) forget that.


He got tired of making brand new outdated trash. 🙂

No doubt Audi can build a competitive EV if they want to.

But I don’t see how they can sell huge number of EVs even they make a great EV one day. Their EV will cost thousands more than their ICE car, as long as Audi still focus on selling ICE car, their EVs biggest competitor is Audi ICE car, not Tesla.

This is the auto marketing equivalent of a kid saying to a rival, “My brother is gonna beat you up… as soon as he grows up!”

I’d say that Audi is talking a good fight… but they’re not even really doing that. Pretty feeble, really.

“Tesla lacks experience with classical auto manufacturing. We have different experiences.”

Certainly Tesla’s difficulties in its starup period were largely due to lack of experience with making automobiles, and the naivety of Tesla’s leaders in thinking they could build cars like Silicon Valley builds computers.

But Tesla has grown past that startup phase. So, going forward to the future of automobiles: Apple lacked experience with making phonographs and dial telephones. Did that in any way hamper them from successfully marketing the iPod and the iPhone? Nope, not one bit.

More yakety-yak from Audi; only a few automakers put their money where their mouth is.

scott franco (No M3 FAUX GRILL!)

“For over 100 years, automobiles have always gotten better. Drivers won’t adopt electric cars if they’re seen as smaller, uglier and more expensive.”

I see green tech as marketing in “thirds”:

1/3 of buyers will actively seek to be green and do the right thing for the environment. They will be willing to overlook differences in price and performance to achieve that, if the differences are not too great.

1/3 of buyers will do the “green thing” if it is a “checkbox” item, that is, if they otherwise like all the features and price of a car, but see that it happens to be electric/zero emissions.

1/3 of buyers will only choose the green car if they see others buy one and feel peer pressure.

The reason this analysis works well is that it explains S curve adoptions well. The beginning of the curve, the rapid fall, and the level off are all thirds.

“if the differences are not too great” is the key phrase above since even the good willing cannot pass actual real life requirement.

Model 3 will be a very first on that point with perhaps some others if their fast chargers rise to superchargers level in both power and availability on the road.

scott franco (No M3 FAUX GRILL!)

“Tesla lacks experience with classical auto manufacturing. We have different experiences.”

Which may be a good thing. Not just the adoption of the Model S is a surprise. Tesla came on the market and did everything right, from the car design to the console design to the service model and to the manufacturing process. They came out of seemingly nowhere to do that, and they are doing it by stealing away top talent in the car industry.

In short, Tesla runs like a silicon valley startup and not a “classical car company”. It seems the little bug that is bugging Detroit is not going to be crushed so easily.

“More attractive”

implying the Tesla isn’t good looking lol

I didn’t like the nose-cone version, but the new front looks better. I think it’s time for an entire refresh though. Something less bland overall.

experience in what? making maintenance mongers?

In making press releases

Reminds me of the last stanza of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

“But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Or two roads diverged in a yellow wood and they (Audi) took the wrong one.
And that has made all the difference.

I agree with most of the sentiments expressed here and want to add one more thought- the dismal failure of GM to promote the Volt via its dealer network or market it in the least. I now love my Model X and 2017 Volt (in addition to the 2 2012s now in the hands of offspring). I am reminded of the ongoing fight to prevent Tesla from direct sales and Elon’s comments about how it is not in standard automakers corporate interests to try and sell electric vehicles that cannibalize other sales. There is no reason to believe that other major ICE manufacturers will treat their own EV versions any differently. They could, as with Saturn, have dealer subsets that don’t provide direct competition with their ICE vehicles, so it is not impossible…however, the sentiments expressed by this Audi talking head must be taken at face value as 1) vaporware, until proven otherwise and 2) logistically difficult given its current sales model I am just Sooooo tired of these idiots even mentioning Tesla. Obviously it has NOTHING to do with volume, as they all sell in much greater volumes and Tesla is a relative drop in the bucket, at present.… Read more »

The thing is that when more manufacturars and more models that are electric is released,it will just shift intrrest from gas to elecric meaning the competition wont increase for years.

Tesla is a technology company that makes autos. Trying to make traditional auto makers into a technology company will be a bit like trying to steer the Titanic. They are far too invested in the ICE age, and not nimble enough to catch up, IMO.

We’ll see

Put the money where your mouth is MB. MB is light years behind Tesla.

I mean Audi. Mobile blunder.

Both for that matter.

Let the Chest Beating begin…

Nothing to boast about yet except for the few players that are actually in the game.

Audi is full of s**t. I’m betting on Nissan.

Nissan is a leader because of CEO they have. It starts at the top. Audi is going to be screwed in just a few short years. As well as many others.

I bet more on Dyson cars because they are not hindered by gas fueled vacuum cleaners they just have to add bigger wheels and batteries to their existing electric ones. That’s way easier.

The funny thing here is that, if you know Dutch, the phrase “Niemand believes that Audi can challenge that” becomes “ Nobody believes that Audi can Challenge that” since Niemand literally means Nobody. An unfortunate circumstance of the speaker wearing that specific name.

On the other hand if he is Nobody he ought to be perfect so perhaps we could be surprised for the better. 

“Nissan still dominates the market with the LEAF, as it is cost effective and widely available”
Actually in 2015 Tesla sold 50446 Model S vs 43651 Leafs even though the Model S costs more than twice as much as the Leaf.

That’s one more proof that cost is not everything.

I’d like to think that the leadership in Ingolstadt is not so foolish as to believe the bravado in their press releases, and they’re going to work hard and humbly to catch up. Sadly, everything about Dieselgate says that hubris remains the unofficial motto of VWAG, so there’s every risk they still believe, against all evidence, that they’re somehow entitled to stroll in and take the EV market whenever they feel ready to get serious.

The unfortunate thing is that they really DO have the capacity to compete strongly. But first they have to get past the denial phase.

By the way, it would be great to see a followup to this story:

How’s that R8 working out?

Here’s ( an article dated less than two weeks ago. Google does a decent job with the translation if French isn’t your thing. Summary, nope, the R8 e-tron hasn’t shipped YET because Audi hasn’t figured out how to actually build it.

It would really behoove publications including this one, to occasionally follow up on their publication of these much-ballyhooed announcements. The InsideEVs headline from two years ago? “280 Mile Audi R8 E-Tron Becomes Reality.” I guess that should be “reality” in sarcasm-quotes. Eric Loveday’s lead? “Audi has made the battery breakthrough that was necessary to bring the Audi R8 e-tron to production.” Again, “production” in quotes.

There are probably a decent number of similar articles over the last few years, announcing that X will ship Y in 201Z. I’m not saying each article needs individual followup, but it would be a genuinely interesting story to tot up how many cars were promised, how many delivered, and of the ones missed, why and what happened to them (sank without trace, delayed, etc).

We hear you ‘talking the talk’ Audi, but have yet to see you ‘walk the walk’.

I sure hope they get on this. But my fear is that they’ll drag their feet in order to protect their ICE fleet until that fleet simply becomes inviable.
Would love to see many makes of electric cars competing though, replacing the old dino-burners.