Audi e-tron Quattro concept, 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show
In its annual general meeting held today in Ingolstadt, Germany, Audi outlined two key areas of focus for the future: electrification and digitization.
No doubt spurred on by the emissions cheating scandal Audi is embroiled in together with its Volkswagen Group parent, the automaker is accelerating the electrification of its fleet.
Instead of the piecemeal efforts we’ve seen so far—currently there’s only an A3-based plug-in hybrid on sale here—Audi will launch an electric SUV in 2018 and launch at least one electrified car per year in subsequent years.
“Starting in 2018, we will launch another electrified car each year,” CEO Rupert Stadler said at the General Meeting.
32-Acre Autonomous Cars Test City
In the area of digitization the scope is much wider. However, one important area is the integration of the HERE digital map business Audi acquired last year with fellow German automakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Highly precise maps linked with real‑time data will be the basis for example for many future digital services, particularly autonomous driving.
According to Stadler, fully autonomous cars will be available “by 2025.” His comments come just days after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU] CEO Sergio Marchionne said he thinks fully autonomous cars are more likely to be just five years out and not decades as others have suggested.
Audi is a bit behind automakers like Mercedes, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] and Volvo in the area of autonomous driving. Audi’s first model with a high level of autonomous capability will be the next-generation A8 arriving next year. It will be able to drive itself in certain situations at speeds of up 37 mph.
Also confirmed in the general meeting were plans to invest €3 billion (approximately $3.42 billion) in property, plant and equipment this year.