Our overriding strategic goal of developing Audi into the world’s leading brand in the premium automobile segment is anchored as the vision in our Strategy 2020, which was first presented in 2010. To reflect steadily changing economic, ecological and social requirements and parameters, we develop and refine the content of our strategy on a continuous basis. However, our strategic areas of activity, which are focused on long-term, sustainable corporate success, also remained unchanged in 2015.
Customer delight remains the mission at the heart of our Strategy 2020. To fulfill our mission, we have defined four strategic areas of activity for the Audi brand:
- We define innovation
- We create experiences
- We shape Audi
- We live responsibility
“Vorsprung durch Technik” takes center stage in our brand identity, which encompasses the brand values sportiness, progressiveness and sophistication. These are reflected in our products and services. The Audi brand stands especially for technological innovations, modern design as well as high-caliber materials and build quality.
We want to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of mobility and deliver our brand essence of “Vorsprung durch Technik” through innovative automobiles and intelligent mobility solutions. Closely monitoring megatrends and global developments – such as urbanization and digitalization – and then using the findings to identify future customer expectations play a key role in our success.
At Audi, “Vorsprung durch Technik” also means meeting increasing ecological demands. In an effort to reconcile driving pleasure, sportiness and comfort with the lowest possible fuel consumption, we pursue a multi-stage concept that ranges from optimizing our current engine technologies and our quattro drive to developing alternative drive concepts that we present collectively under the umbrella term Audi tron. Plug-in hybrid technology, all-electric drive and fuel cell technology as well as the development of carbon-neutral fuels all play an important role in this. In the interests of adopting a holistic approach, we are also making steady progress with improving the framework for alternative drive concepts – for example, we have made advances in the field of inductive charging with Audi Wireless Charging (AWC).
Digitalization and connectivity are becoming increasingly important in the automotive industry. Through our optional Audi connect services, for instance, we enable the vehicle to connect to the Internet as well as with the infrastructure and other vehicles. We are steadily expanding our range of Audi connect services in order to satisfy the requirements of our customers. We also work with various partners. For example, we joined the Google Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) in 2014 and integrate the Android platform and its apps into our cars’ operating system via Google Android Auto. The functions of iOS devices are also made available in the vehicle via Apple CarPlay. Smartphone integration is currently available in the new Audi A4 and new Audi Q7 under the name of Audi smart-phone interface. To enable our customers in China to use their smartphones in the car both quickly and seamlessly, we established a partnership with Baidu Inc., China’s top search engine provider, in 2015. We have also signed an agreement with Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., one of the world’s largest network providers, on the joint development and utilization of an Asia-specific LTE module.
Piloted driving, too, is becoming increasingly important. A key requirement for this is that vehicles are able to connect with their environment and with each other. With the goal of accessing even more precise and more detailed data in the future, the Audi Group, the BMW Group and Daimler AG each acquired an equal interest in There Holding B.V., Rijswijk (Netherlands), in the year under review, which took over the digital mapping service HERE through a subsidiary. HERE has the vision of developing an open platform that combines high-resolution maps with location-specific real-time information in order to provide customers with a detailed, second-by-second snapshot of the real world.
Having already demonstrated our expertise in piloted driving on the Hockenheimring in 2014 with the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept, we presented our innovative strength in this field several times during the past fiscal year.
As a result of growing urbanization, we are tapping new areas of innovation. We are emphatically pushing the development of intelligent mobility solutions in the shape of Audi mobility. Through various premium car-sharing projects such as Audi select in Germany and Audi on demand in San Francisco, our customers can already enjoy premium solutions for individual mobility.
Numerous surveys have revealed design to be one of the main decision-making factors when buying a car. That is why we continue to refine the unmistakable Audi design language. We are focusing especially on achieving even greater differentiation between the individual model series. In addition, we are increasingly giving Audi technologies visible expression in design, thus creating a symbiosis between technology and design.
In the year under review, we yet again demonstrated our innovative strength in the area of lightweight technology with the new Audi A4, the new Audi Q7 and the new Audi R8. Thanks to the new multimaterial construction principle, the Audi Space Frame (ASF) of the new Audi R8 V10 plus weighs just 200 kilograms, for example.
We want to delight our customers worldwide with experiences that embody the spirit of the Audi brand. For example, we introduced journalists, dealers and customers to the fascination of piloted driving at several events staged over the past fiscal year. In early 2015, selected journalists were able to experience piloted driving on an approximately 560-mile route in everyday driving conditions in the context of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. In April, we demonstrated the technical maturity of piloted driving in a test run on the A9 autobahn. Our Audi A7 piloted driving concept “Jack” performed lane changes and passing maneuvers independently in real-life conditions. During the CES in Shanghai in May 2015, the possibilities of piloted driving were demonstrated on an approximately 15-kilometer stretch in heavy traffic on the urban expressway.
Another highlight in the year under review was the high-profile piloted driving demonstration on California’s Sonoma Raceway. Technology demonstrator “Robby,” which is based on the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept, was pushed to its physical limit lap after lap, but still achieved consistently precise results on the racing circuit. In a second racetrack appearance on the challenging FAST Parcmotor circuit near Barcelona, Spain, Audi yet again demonstrated its technological expertise in piloted driving in front of a captivated audience of journalists, dealers and customers.
With the market introduction of the new Audi R8 V10 plus, we brought together our most emotionally charged disciplines – ranging from the R and RS models to customer racing and factory motorsport – under the Audi Sport portfolio. A major objective of Audi Sport is to delight our customers with unique passion and outstanding dynamism. We have also devised the new Audi Sport showroom concept with that goal in mind. It will enable our customers to experience the Audi Sport models on show in a specially created atmosphere.
Under the Audi Sport name, we have also launched the Audi Sport TT Cup – a separate race series for the Audi TT – as a gateway to the world of motorsport within our Company. Starters from 14 different countries and the spectators were treated to action-packed motorsport featuring plenty of passing maneuvers and duels at a total of six events in the accompanying program of the German Touring Car Masters (DTM).
Through internationalization, digitalization and the development of new technologies and business areas, the Audi Group is confronted with numerous challenges. Digitalization in particular is becoming more and more important. New competitors from other very dynamic sectors are pushing into our market. In the future, customers will also expect their vehicle to be comprehensively connected with the world around it.
Through “We shape Audi,” we are aligning our strategies with the demands of the future in terms of decision-making speed and innovativeness. This safeguards our responsiveness and effectiveness, while creating the basis for profitable growth. The ability to keep steadily evolving as well as the expertise and passion of our employees are key success factors.
The field of activity “We live responsibility” reflects how the three pillars of sustainability – society, ecology and economics – underpin the Audi strategy and our entrepreneurial actions. These three pillars of sustainability are given balanced weighting in corporate decisions. Based on our stakeholder survey, which was updated at the start of 2015, we placed particular emphasis on product-related topics in the past fiscal year and focused especially on reconciling a variety of requirements such as environmental impacts, attractiveness to customers, safety and competitiveness.
The “Corporate Responsibility” area brings all sustainability-related activities together under one roof and helps the companies of the Audi Group to put the five core themes Product, Environment, Employees, Society and Operations into action.
Much of our corporate responsibility communications work in the year under review was devoted to “Audi ultra.” In order, for instance, to sensitize our employees to the various facets of corporate responsibility, we addressed forward-looking sustainability issues revolving around products and processes, and communicated these to our locations in Germany, Hungary, Belgium and Mexico.
The Audi Corporate Responsibility Report 2014 was presented at the Annual General Meeting of AUDI AG in May 2015. We prepared this document in accordance with the new G4 reporting standard of the Global Reporting Initiative for the first time. The new standard increases transparency when reporting facts, goals and measures in the field of sustainability. In addition, it promotes the principle that companies should concentrate on the areas of key relevance for their sustainability. Our Corporate Responsibility Report also contains the AUDI AG Declaration of Conformity with the German Sustainability Code.
Audi holds regular stakeholder dialogues to reconcile internal and external demands on matters of sustainability. We mapped the results of the most recent survey in a matrix. This expresses the relevance for Audi (on the x-axis) and its stakeholders (on the y-axis) in relation to each other.
The Audi brand has clear objectives on different areas:
The financial strength of a company is reflected particularly in a stable long-term profit performance. In our case, growth only meets the premium standards of Audi if it is simultaneously profitable. Efficient structures and processes, effective investment management and consistent cost management are indispensable for enabling this qualitative growth. Within this context, it is especially important to us to finance investment from self-generated cash flow. Our return and liquidity ratios underscore the high profitability and financial strength of our Company.
With a total of 1,803,246 (1,741,129) vehicles delivered, the Audi brand achieved a further increase in deliveries to customers in the 2015 fiscal year despite a challenging market environment. High demand for vehicles of our A3 family and our SUV models as well as growth in the North America and Western Europe regions were the major factors with a positive impact on our development in vehicle deliveries. With more than 1.8 million vehicles delivered, we easily exceeded the original volume target of 1.5 million vehicles for 2015. For our next milestone, we aim to deliver over 2 million Audi vehicles by 2020 to the various sales regions worldwide with the help of our product initiative and targeted increases in market shares. To that end, we are steadily working on optimizing and expanding the international dealer and service network in major growth markets. At the same time, we are expanding our worldwide production structures to establish an even broader basis for our business model.
For a premium automobile manufacturer, a strong brand and a positive image are key success factors. It is extremely important in this respect to have a corresponding customer mix, for example in terms of average age, values and price acceptance. To delight customers and bind them emotionally to the Audi brand, we want to achieve even higher image ratings and steadily improve our high-quality, innovative product portfolio.
Our ambition is to lead the way in both design and technology. We also want to offer our customers sporty, high-quality, innovative products as well as attractive mobility solutions. We place particular focus here on aligning our cutting-edge technologies with the expectations of our customers and making this technical expertise a tangible experience for customers.
We again brought various innovations to production maturity in the 2015 fiscal year. To delight customers worldwide, it is essential to address a wide variety of topics. We have therefore chosen to concentrate on the following core themes, among others:
- The efficiency of our products
- Alternative drive systems
- Vehicle presentation and interior experience
- Connected, automated driving
- Intuitive operating concepts
- Intelligent and appealing vehicle architecture
- Lightweight construction and sustainability
- Sportiness and driving experience
Through our consistent, long-term innovations management, we ensure that the core themes are steadily advanced. We also offer every employee a platform for new ideas relating to all areas of the Audi brand in our so-called Innoteams. To complement our core processes and core business, we thus seek to offer scope for putting creative ideas into practice. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 in Las Vegas, we communicated the innovative idea “Audi Fit Driver,” for example. The driver’s current state of fitness is detected by a wearable device and the vehicle sensors.
“Vorsprung” originates in the mind – which is why we consistently pursue our strategic corporate goal of “Attractive employer worldwide” and provide modern workplaces, innovative tasks, commensurate pay and varied individual opportunities for advancement together with high job security at our locations. Through some 200 flexible working hours models and a wide variety of arrangements to balance family and work, we also recognize the individual life phases of our employees. A responsible and exemplary leadership style, trust and appreciation are central pillars of our corporate culture. We regularly conduct in-house surveys in order to gauge the satisfaction of our workforce and to ensure that we keep them satisfied in the future as well.
Through the corporate objective “Sustainability of products and processes,” we aim to reconcile social and economic benefits in all core processes, use resources sparingly, be mindful of the future in our actions, and secure the long-term competitiveness of the Company. From that starting position, the individual divisions build their sustainability goals into the strategies and processes for their specific area. One priority is to reduce CO2 emissions from our products and their production processes. In the Strategy section of the Audi Corporate Responsibility Report, we highlight not only the goals and measures, but also the degree of implementation achieved for the sake of greater transparency.