German high-end automobile manufacturer Audi must rush to adjust its lineup to meet the demand for electric cars in China, the world’s largest car market.
Thus said the German luxury carmaker’s CEO. Markus Duesmann, in an interview with Reuters, published on Thursday, June 15.
“We are in the process of reviewing our entire development process,” Duesmann said.
However, Audi’s sales performance in China has fallen short of expectations. Duesmann said, “We still don’t have the optimal vehicles on the market for Chinese needs.”
Audi sold just over 3,000 electric cars in China From January to March, while local auto giant BYD posted the best results for the first quarter in terms of the domestic market with an 11 percent market share – fairness dictates that this share includes cars with combustion engines.
You are now signed up for our newsletter
Check your email to complete sign up
The boss of the Volkswagen subsidiary explained that the company is currently reporting having trouble streamlining the production processes of connectivity and software.
- Two of Top Three Most Popular Electric Cars in China are Foreign Brands
- New Report Alleges Nearly Every Major Auto Manufacturer Exploits Forced Labor in China’s Uyghur Region
- Tesla Expected to Lose Throne to Volkswagen as World’s Largest Electric Vehicle Maker: Bloomberg
- Toyota’s Chinese Factory Shutters Because of Drought-induced Electricity Shortage
Though it is a generally felt problem, the Audi board is currently “also looking more intensively at how this is done in China,” Duesmann said.
The CEO expressed his belief that it should be possible to cut down on the current development time, i.e. the length of time it takes to produce a single car from 48 months.
“I expect that over time we will get close to a development time of 30 months,” he added.
CEO of Audi, Markus Duesmann, said his company would have to catch up with the transition from combustion engine-driven cars to electrically propelled cars to meet the demands in the largest car market of the world, China. (Image: MICHELE TANTUSSI/File Photo/Reuters)
The brand with the four hoops has been dragged behind competing German carmakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz in transitioning towards battery-electric vehicles (BEV).
“In 2030, the BEV share of the premium car market should already be between 60 and 70 percent, depending on the region,” Duesmann said. “We have to react when a market suddenly changes so quickly.”
Over the past two years and unlike BMW and Mercedes, Audi has also not come up with many new changes to its models, while the launch of its latest EV flagship, the Q6 e-tron, has also had to wait due to software development issues that are behind schedule.
Hence, the electric Audi Q6 (not to be confused with the Chinese Audi Q6) is likely to be presented this year but is not expected to hit the market until next year.
The launch of the Q6 marks the beginning of a sales campaign to ensure that 20 new models will have been introduced in China by 2025, about half of them with electric motor propulsion.
Meanwhile, in 2026, Audi pledged to have phased out all combustion engine-driven vehicles from its conveyor belts.
Across the Atlantic
Duesmann also spoke about Audi’s efforts to increase its market share in the U.S. using the favorable auto market and incentive programs put in place by the U.S. government to promote electric driving.
Audi’s strategy “has been reinforced by the Inflation Reduction Act,” the CEO said, referring to the program.
Audi has a car plant in Mexico and is looking to expand to the U.S., possibly housing a production line at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee.
A decision on this will “definitely be made this year,” Duesmann said.
Reuters contributed to this report.