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Interview with Audi Board Member for Development Peter Mertens

New Audi board member Peter Mertens
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In the coming year Audi brings the e-tron Quattro onto the market. Is it really a good idea to first transport the topic of electromobility via a high-performance, heavy SUV?

W e have opted for a top-down -Strategy decided because most buyers can be found in this segment. Currently, one kilowatt hour costs around 100 euros, depending on the calculation model. Only when we come well below this price will e-mobility also become interesting in volume segments.

Will you even be able to earn money with the e-tron Quattro?

The margins are not yet at the level that we can achieve with conventionally powered vehicles. But yes, we will earn money with it.

Will the e-tron drive autonomously?

At least not fully autonomous after level 5. The first vehicles who can do this will certainly not exist until 2025. Probably even later. But with the new A8, we are the first - as soon as markets, laws and homologation permit - to move towards highly automated driving to level 3. The vehicle can therefore take on certain driving tasks independently.

What will happen to the internal combustion engine in the future?

We believe in diesel. Point. It would be very difficult to compensate for him if he were removed from the offer. If the exhaust gas aftertreatment is right, the diesel is the best concept for meeting upcoming emission standards. You see, we anticipate a 35 percent share of electrically powered vehicles - BEVs and plug-in hybrids - in 2025. However, to the chagrin of all automobile manufacturers, the predictions cannot yet be made accurate to the percent. That is why the internal combustion engine has a long life ahead of it.

The course for e-mobility has been set at Audi. Where do you see a need for action in your new role as Head of Development?

I think that we should work out the character of the vehicles even more precisely. If you really want to be perfect in every area, the corners and edges of a product that you can rub yourself against disappear. And something still needs to be done in terms of design. But a very progressive design language is already established here. The upcoming A8 marks the first step in this direction. It gets very progressive and offers technology that none of theCompetitor has.

Peter Mertens succeeds Stefan Knirsch

Born in 1961, Mertens was most recently responsible for research and development at Volvo. The trained toolmaker and studied production technician began his car career at Mercedes, then switched to Opel, GM and Jaguar /Land Rover. Since March 2011 he has been Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Car Corporation.

Mertens then succeeded Stefan Knirsch on September 26, 2016, who gave up his position as Chief Technical Development Officer with immediate effect and left the company - in mutual agreement with the Supervisory Board. Knirsch succeeded Ulrich Hackenberg, who also had to leave because of the emissions affair. Audi boss Stadler wanted to get started with Knirsch.

The engineer Knirsch was at Audi from 1990 to 1996, then switched to Porsche. There he was promoted to head of basic engine development. In 2010 Knirsch went to Pierburg, where he became head of KSPG's Mechatronics division. He returned to Audi at the end of 2013 to take over the management of engine development.

He left Audi in mid-2015, but returned as Board Member for Technical Development on January 1, 2016. In the press release on Knirsch's appointment, Audi boss Stadler was quoted as follows: “Stefan Knirsch is very familiar with the Audi Group and technical development. We know him as a creative and visionary doer. With him we will get off to a flying start in this demanding situation. ”

In an interview with the Audi website in 2014, Knirsch explained what excites him about engine development at Audi:“ Audi customers expect their cars high performance and superior dynamics together with low consumption. These apparent conflicting goals are particularly pronounced in the premium segment - which makes it all the more exciting to solve them. '

Knirsch followed Ulrich Hackenberg, who had to leave at the end of 2015 because of the emissions scandal. Hackenberg had in turn replaced Wolfgang Dürheimer less than two years earlier, who was only nine months Chief Development Officer. Dürheimer's predecessor, Michael Dick, retired in 2012.

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