At Auto Shanghai 2023, Audi and its two joint-venture partners – First Automotive Works (FAW) and SAIC Motor – showcase their product portfolio for China on a joint booth. Sustainable premium mobility is taking center stage with a lineup of all-electric Audi vehicles. The Formula 1 show car featuring the four rings’ signature livery as well as the Audi A6 Avant e-tron concept and the Audi urbansphere concept are displayed publicly in China for the first time. At the motor show, Audi underlines its approach to the Chinese market: With products designed and made “in China for China” as well as a dedicated ecosystem, Audi intends to reshape its business in the country.
Audi presents its forward-looking product portfolio and holistic ecosystem for one of its key markets, at Auto Shanghai 2023. As a sign of the brand’s commitment to electric mobility and sustainable technology, the Audi booth features a lineup of fully electric vehicles. Visitors will be able to gain an insight into the joint portfolio of Audi and its two local partners, First Automotive Works (FAW) and SAIC Motor. Among the vehicles on display are the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Audi Q5 e-tron, both locally produced.
Audi CEO Markus Duesmann explains: “As we gear up for the largest product initiative in Audi’s history, the all-electric vehicle lineup and the two forward-looking concept vehicles on display here illustrate our vision of sustainable premium mobility, tailored to the Chinese market. Through our ‘in China for China’ approach, we are developing premium products and services suited perfectly to local customers’ demands.”
F1 show car and concept vehicles offer a glimpse into the future
Audi is displaying the F1 show car with Audi Launch Livery for the first time in China at Auto Shanghai 2023. Along with the display vehicle, the four rings are giving an update on the progress of their Formula 1 program at the event. The development team at Audi Formula Racing’s headquarters in Neuburg is set to grow to 300 employees by the end of 2023. Testing of a single-cylinder engine began late last year. The first full hybrid drivetrain unit, consisting of the combustion engine, electric motor, battery, and electronic control unit, is scheduled to run on the test bench before the end of this year and will form the basis for the future vehicle concept.
Duesmann: “It’s a pleasure to personally unveil the F1 show car to our customers in China, especially after three years of being unable to visit the country. Our Formula 1 program continues to gather momentum as excitement builds among motorsport fans around the world.”
Visitors to the Audi booth in Shanghai can also view two exciting concept vehicles from Audi. The fully electric Audi A6 e-tron Avant concept precedes future generations of Audi station wagons. Built on the upcoming PPE platform, the sporty yet elegant vehicle features 800-volt technology, 270 kW charging capacity, and a range of up to 700 kilometers (435 miles) according to WLTP.
The second concept vehicle on show is the Audi urbansphere concept. Developed for use in traffic-dense megacities and with input from customers in China, the fully electric concept vehicle offers the largest interior space of any Audi to date. It was designed from the inside out, putting passengers’ needs first. As a result, it intelligently combines premium materials, advanced technologies, and digital services to offer a luxurious and relaxing lounge-style experience for its occupants.
“In China for China” – dedicated products and offerings for a key market
Audi’s in “China for China” approach is the result of the company’s effort to address the needs and expectations of customers in China as well as local market trends such as digitalization and e-commerce. Audi is fully committed to providing customers with innovative products and services tailored to their unique requirements, and the brand will continue to develop and launch more market-specific products and services in the country.
Audi CEO Markus Duesmann said: “We and our Chinese partners are laying the foundation for continued success in our single largest market and driving the transformation of our business forward. Therefore, addressing the specific demands of our Chinese customers is key to us. To this end, Audi is providing a consistent customer journey: with innovative products, a digital ecosystem, and Audi Charging Stations, as well as with new ways to meet customers online and in person.”
Design, engineering, and production for the local market
Audi expanded its local BEV portfolio in China in 2022 with two SUVs based on the modular electric drive system (MEB): the compact Audi Q4 e-tron and the mid-sized Audi Q5 e-tron. They were followed later that year by the Audi e-tron GT quattro1, which is imported from Germany.
However, this is just the start of Audi’s electric road map in the country. Duesmann explains: “We are increasing local development and production capacities with our new R&D Center in Beijing and our new factory in Changchun.”
Audi is strengthening its research capabilities in China with a new R&D Building in Beijing. The state-of-the-art facility develops China-specific vehicles as well as brand-shaping technology. It serves as a key innovation hub for development areas including smart cockpit functionality, innovative displays, intelligent voice control systems, and connectivity solutions. In addition, the local R&D team and its counterpart in Germany work together to define and develop product features for new electronic architectures, including advanced driver assistance systems and systems for automated driving.
The next milestone on Audi’s EV road map for China will be the production of three new localized models based on the upcoming Premium Platform Electric (PPE). Starting in late 2024, versions of the future Audi Q6 e-tron and the Audi A6 e-tron model series tailored to the Chinese market are set to be made in Audi FAW NEV Company’s Changchun factory. Audi is establishing this new automotive plant together with its long-term partner FAW. In total, the four rings are investing around 2.6 billion euros into the creation of the company and the construction of the plant. With the new production site, Audi is also creating around 3,000 new jobs in Changchun.
A dedicated and consistent brand ecosystem for China
In line with its holistic approach to the market, Audi is not just developing new dedicated BEV offerings but also creating a comprehensive brand ecosystem for China. Audi China President Dr. Jürgen Unser highlights: “Building an ecosystem around our electric vehicles is of key importance to us. Customers in China increasingly expect products and services which go beyond the car from premium automotive brands. We aim to deliver a consistent and seamless experience to them, both in-person and digitally.”
Audi’s ecosystem creates a convenient user experience for the Audi customer at all points along the brand journey. This approach is exemplified by the Audi Community App, which is also available as a WeChat mini program and enables customers and fans to connect with the brand, share experiences, or register for events. In addition, Audi plans to offer in-car-entertainment solutions for its customers in China. These offerings will include streaming, gaming, and social media experiences. While users enjoy these features, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and next-generation V2X-functions (vehicle to everything) will ensure a safe and smooth trip.
A key aspect of Audi’s brand ecosystem in China is a bespoke charging network. Together with local partners, Audi China has launched a network of exclusive charging stations to support its growing EV portfolio. The network will expand to include more than 600 charging points nationwide by the end of 2023. The Audi Charging Stations enable superfast charging at up to 360 kW.
Audi China President Dr. Jürgen Unser: “Audi believes that premium should go beyond the car. The Audi Charging Stations provide a premium user experience to our Chinese customers.” Consequently, the look and feel of the Audi Charging Station are consistent with the latest Audi brand, interface, and showroom design in China. High-quality materials and surfaces reflect the premium nature of the four rings’ ecosystem.
Users of the brand’s EVs enjoy a seamless electric mobility experience at the Audi Charging Station using the Audi App and its convenient search, reservation, and payment features. A map of all Audi Charging Stations is integrated into the Audi MMI navigation system. Customers can also find and navigate to Audi Charging Stations using the Audi App. The charging status of the car is displayed in the Audi App during charging.
New showrooms and innovative customer touchpoints
Consumers in China prefer to interact with brands online and through city stores in urban centers. In addition to its digital touchpoints, together with its two Chinese partners, Audi is opening new showrooms tailored to local customers’ specific demands. They combine contemporary aesthetics with the latest technology and enable customers to discover Audi’s offerings in several ways.
The four rings are establishing three different types of new brand stores. They include urban showrooms supporting the online sales model of Audi and its partner SAIC. Additionally, around 100 FAW-Audi dealerships have been updated to feature the latest brand design. Audi and FAW are opening 20 new showrooms specifically for Audi EVs and Audi Sport models located in the central business districts of major Chinese cities.
With more than three decades of market experience into the future
Audi’s presence in China dates back to 1988 when the German brand became the first premium manufacturer to start local production in China under the joint venture FAW-Volkswagen. Since then, Audi and its partners have delivered almost eight million vehicles in China. Audi production under the FAW-VW joint venture takes place at four sites in China: Changchun, Foshan, Tianjin, and Qingdao. In 2021, Audi launched a new partnership with SAIC to seize opportunities for growth and further expansion of its product portfolio. SAIC manufactures Audi models at its plants in Anting (Shanghai) and Ningbo. With innovative products created “in China for China,” a curated brand experience, and a consistent customer journey, Audi is now attracting a new generation of customers.