Chief Strategic Officer Jan Michel explains the new strategy

The new corporate strategy is “Consistently Audi.” The goal: Audi will transform itself into a comprehensive provider of CO₂-neutral premium mobility. Jan Michel, Chief Strategic Officer at Audi, explains the new strategy and why bypassing electric mobility is out of the question.

08/20/2019 Reading Time: 3 min

Interview Jan Michel
“The most attractive form of sustainable mobility” — that’s the vision at Audi. Eight consistency building blocks describe what Audi wants to achieve and how it will succeed.

Mr. Michel, as Chief Strategic Officer, you came up with “Consistently Audi”. What is the core message behind this new strategy?
Jan Michel: With “Consistently Audi,” we are transforming ourselves from a car manufacturer to a mobility provider. Our goal is to bring sustainable mobility to the streets in the most appealing way possible. For us, that also means being the leading provider of CO₂-neutral mobility in the luxury class.  

How can that be achieved?
In general, we need to see things from the customers’ perspective more than ever before and offer the best possible customer experience. The central question always needs to be: what do our customers really want and need — now and in the future? Autonomous driving, for example, will be a game-changer in the coming years. And Audi customers expect nothing short of top-notch technical solutions from us.

Portrait of Jan Michel

“We’re positioning ourselves at the forefront of the transition to e-mobility,” says Chief Strategic Officer Jan Michel.

Jan Michel

Jan Michel has been the Chief Strategic Officer at Audi since March 2019. Michel holds a Ph.D. in physics and was previously a successful entrepreneur in the IT and technology industries. In 2012, he left the McKinsey consultancy and joined Volkswagen. He has been with Audi since May 2018. The Rhineland native worked closely with Audi CEO Bram Schot to develop a new strategic alignment — which now paves the way for the future with “Consistently Audi”.

Self-driving cars will change everything. Does that mean our future customers won’t need driver's licenses?
I don’t think that we’re going to wake up one day and find that all the cars are driving themselves. That will be implemented step by step. And Audi is making its own contribution in that area with CO₂-neutral, interurban long-distance mobility. But our children will still need driver's licenses — not everyone will live in a big city. And despite that, we will still be faced with a simultaneous challenge: by 2030, over 60 percent of the world population will live in cities. But the urbanization trend also shows that alternative mobility offerings and fleets of strictly electric vehicles will be necessary to reduce CO₂ emissions in the future.

This is also reflected in the new corporate strategy: the future is electric. Isn’t it risky to put all your eggs in one basket?
It isn’t a question of whether Audi wants electric mobility — there’s just no way around it. Climate change is something that is much more present in the collective consciousness. Global legislators are heavily influencing our business model by introducing CO₂ taxes — just think of the stringent requirements in China, of driving restrictions, and of increasingly strict CO₂ targets for vehicle fleets. All that is significantly shifting demand over to electric vehicles — more or less rapidly, depending on the region of the world. We have analyzed all this in detail. One thing is sure: electric mobility is, by far, the most efficient path to decarbonization — to a low-carbon economy.

Audi e-tron in Masdar City

Power consumption combined *: 24.6-23.7 kWh/100km (NEFZ); 26.4-22.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂-emissions combined *: 0 g/km

Power consumption combined *: 24.6-23.7 kWh/100km (NEFZ); 26.4-22.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂-emissions combined *: 0 g/km

What does the path to electric mobility look like in concrete terms?
In 2025, our portfolio will already include over 30 electrified models — 20 of them all-electric. These cars will make up around 40 percent of our worldwide turnover. Our focus on the premium market means that we will definitely need different types of drives. Some of our customers drive cars with high driving resistance; they expect excellent performance. And we have many long-distance drivers. For that reason, we will continue to offer plug-in hybrids and potentially fuel cells, as well.

Speaking of fuel cells: when will hydrogen drives catch on?
That mostly depends on the availability of renewable energy and the development of the hydrogen infrastructure. We don’t expect hydrogen fuel cells to catch on before the middle of the coming decade. It’s clear, though, that hydrogen fuel cells are especially interesting for large vehicles and for intermediate storage of renewable energy. That’s why we’re working on a prototype in our center of expertise in Neckarsulm. The first test drives will already begin in 2019; we are planning a small production series for 2021.

A cornerstone of the new strategic alignment is “Consistently Focused.” What will we be leaving out in the future?
“Focused” means doing less, and doing it right. Technical ambition and feasibility alone are not good reasons to develop products. For example, we’ll be reducing the number of motor-driven models. We’ve already cut them by 30 percent. That removes a lot of the complexity from our business. We’re also taking a hard look at the body designs. What are our customers ordering? The new Audi A1, for example, will no longer be available as a 3-door model. And we want to leverage synergies even more going forward. Within the concern, and beyond.

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