Audi commits to electromobility – and bows to Tesla

March 22, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
“Speed without repentance” is the promise of electromobility, according to Stefan Niemand who oversees Audi’s electromobility strategy. At the recent Technical Congress of Germany’s powerful automotive industry organization VDA, Niemand criticized the industry for missing a huge chance. At the same time, he found words of appreciation for competitor Tesla.

The annual VDA’s Technical Congress has something of a Druids meeting: Engineering rainmakers of OEMs, tier one suppliers and other technology providers along the European automotive value chain meet to discuss the technology trends in the industry. Did I say European? Yes – though VDA stands for “Association of the German Automotive Industry”, the club also has many members from other countries such as PSA and Michelin from France.


At the meeting held last week in Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart, already the selection of the topics indicated that the industry is in departure. Though VDA president Matthias Wissmann advocated the value of the diesel technology for the industry (“without diesel technology, Europe won’t be able to meet its CO2 targets”), most presentations and keynote speeches focused on data-driven mobility models and, of course, on electromobility.


For example, Porsche R&D director Michael Steiner said there is not much headroom left for the energetic optimization potential for the automobile – at least not for the conventional one. To improve the energy efficiency of the entire mobility section in the economy, electrification is the only option, he said. “The next logical step is the electrification”, he said in his keynote speech, titled “The sports car of the future”. Porsche’s top management has given green light to bring the “Mission E” prototype demoed past September to series production, Steiner said. He also provided some new details about the four-seater: It will come with two permanently excited synchronous motors, one on each axle. Porsche chose this type of engine for its high energetic efficiency and its constant power delivery across the entire rpm range. Fast charging will be essential for the success of such a high-performance vehicle, Steiner said. Therefore, Porsche equips the Mission E with a “turbo charger” – not in the sense the expression is used in combination with an internal combustion engine but in the sense that the vehicle's batteries will