Audi Sport Team WRT will be on the grid with Dutch Audi factory driver Robin Frijns from the DTM, title defender Markus Winkelhock and his Belgian fellow Audi Sport driver Dries Vanthoor. A second Audi R8 LMS of the Belgian team will be shared by the Briton Stuart Leonard, the up-and-coming South African driver Sheldon van der Linde and the Spaniard Alex Riberas. The Audi R8 LMS of Audi Sport Team Land will be driven by the two German Audi Sport drivers Christopher Haase and Christopher Mies. Audi Sport driver Kelvin van der Linde will complete this lineup. The South African won last year’s race together with Winkelhock.
After Audi with its drivers in 2016 and 2017 won the manufacturers’ and drivers’ classifications in the only worldwide GT3 racing series, the teams are now facing a major task: Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase as the best Audi Sport drivers are separated from the top of the standings by 18 points before the finale, trailed by Robin Frijns and Dries Vanthoor who need 21 points to close the gap to the leaders. 25 points are awarded for a victory at Laguna Seca.
The situation in the manufacturers’ classification is different. Here Audi is currently in position two of the standings and able to close a merely 9-point gap to front runner Mercedes-AMG. A brand that scores a one-two result achieves a maximum of 43 points. “Five prestigious manufacturers have submitted entries for the series. Our aim is to defend the title in the manufacturers’ classification,” says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “The situation in the drivers’ classification is particularly challenging, but we’re going to leave no stone unturned there either.” The two Audi drivers with the best point scores will not be driving together for the first time in this IGTC season. In this way, Audi Sport customer racing is dividing opportunities and risks between two cars and Markus Winkelhock as well as Christopher Haase will maintain a theoretical chance of winning the drivers’ title. In the rounds at Bathurst (Australia) and Spa (Belgium) Audi won the IGTC classification. Following a race in Japan, the California 8 Hours will mark the end of the season for the last time. Next year, a round in South Africa will complement the calendar as the season’s finale.
The Audi Sport customer racing teams in the California 8 Hours
Audi Sport Team Land
Christopher Haase/Kelvin van der Linde/Christopher Mies (D/ZA/D)
Audi Sport Team WRT
Robin Frijns/Dries Vanthoor/Markus Winkelhock (NL/B/D)
Audi Sport Team WRT
Stuart Leonard/Sheldon van der Linde/Alex Riberas (GB/ZA/E)
– End –
Fleets of self-driving cars will help to solve traffic problems in cities in the long term. These benefits become even more apparent when coupled with smarter traffic management and a higher occupancy rate, i.e. increasing the average number of persons per car. If this figure rises moderately from 1.1 to 1.3 persons, because more people share a car, there is no more congestion during rush hour. In a fully automated, networked traffic system, more people (+12%) can be transported much more quickly (-33%) in commuter traffic (see animation).
Connected, automated and shared vehicles also provide cities with new opportunities to use and reallocate space to improve urban quality of life. For example, the study found that the incorporation of fully autonomous vehicles could repurpose one traffic lane in a four-lane network and dedicate this new space to pedestrians or bicycles instead of vehicles. The study takes into account that, with an increasing number of autonomous cars, more senior citizens and children without a driver’s license have access to mobility, and convenient robo-taxis will compete with local public transportation.
“The results suggest that autonomous cars, mobility services, and networked infrastructure can significantly reduce congestion and road space. At the same time, more young and old people can travel safely and conveniently. In this way, the quality of life in cities will be improved dramatically. These findings encourage us to continue our investment in the future: in self-driving cars such as the Audi Aicon, services like Audi on demand, or networked technology such as Audi traffic-light information,” says Melanie Goldmann, head of Trend Communication at Audi.
The study also examines more extreme scenarios. For example, what happens if there is a sharp increase in the number of people who use public transportation, walk, or travel by bike? What is the effect of high levels of delivery traffic as a result of online shopping? And what happens if cities do not permit self-driving cars or are slow or reluctant to digitalize their infrastructure? The results range from shorter journey times in commuter traffic (-40%) to gridlock.
“The effects of connected and automated vehicles and of other technical and societal developments are continuously studied in the transportation research community. In most cases, the studies focus on single aspects of these developments in order to better identify the isolated effect of exactly that aspect alone. Our objective was different: We wanted to draw a picture of what mobility will look like when all these effects come together,” says Professor Peter Vortisch, head of the Institute for Transport at the KIT.
In the traffic model for Ingolstadt, the researchers investigated only one parameter in isolation, without taking account of changes in user behavior or increased demand: how many self-driving cars would be needed today to make the traffic flow noticeably better? At least 40 percent! Computers maintain the necessary distance to other vehicles, do not drive too fast, and obey all traffic signals. However, according to several academic studies, in a mixed traffic situation this has a disadvantage for traffic flow. Journey times are noticeably cut only with an increasing number of autonomous cars: if the roads in Ingolstadt today were used only by autonomous vehicles, travel times would fall by one quarter.
“The results show us how important it is to take an overall view of urban mobility. Self-driving cars require mobility services and smart infrastructure to make the most of their advantages. For this reason it is important to cooperate with various stakeholders, especially with cities,” says Goldmann.
With its approximately 140,000 residents, Ingolstadt, Audi’s headquarter city, is well suited as a “laboratory” for traffic flow on the roads, as traffic here has four wheels: for historical reasons there are many automobiles and buses here, but no subway or trams. These conditions apply in many medium-sized cities in different countries.
Audi’s “25th Hour” project
Today, on average, drivers spend about 50 minutes per day at the wheel. In the “25th Hour” project, since 2017 Audi has been investigating how self-driving cars will change our everyday lives. In the future will we continue to spend almost an hour a day in the car?
In addition, the traveling time in the self-driving car can be put to good use: passengers talk, relax or work. In collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO), Audi is investigating how, for example, the interior of the car can become a perfect workplace (study, 2017). For Audi’s strategists and designers, the answers to such questions are highly relevant. Digitalization and urbanization transform cities, mobility and user behavior. Automobile concepts, however, are being developed today – and have to blend smartly and efficiently with developing mobility systems in the future.
Standing still or on the move, the Audi e-tron is electrifying. Its expressive sill area, the electric tailboard and the light gray Singleframe are indicators of the high-voltage technology that makes for a special driving experience. The electric SUV is powered by two powerful electric motors that are locally CO2-neutral and virtually silent. A new generation of the quattro drive, the electric all-wheel drive, ensures excellent traction and dynamics. It ensures the continuous and variable regulation of the ideal distribution of drive torques between the two axles – within a fraction of a second.
A key factor for the sporty character and outstanding transverse dynamics is the low and central position at which the battery system is installed. It gives the vehicle a range that is suitable for driving long distances. During far more than 90 percent of all decelerations, the Audi e-tron recovers energy solely via its electric motors. The electric SUV taps its maximum recuperation potential in combination with the integrated electrohydraulic brake control system. Audi is the world’s first carmaker to use such a system in an electrically powered series production vehicle. The cleverly designed aerodynamics also contribute significantly to its efficiency. One highlight of this concept are the optional virtual exterior mirrors – a worldwide first in a series production model. Not only do they reduce aerodynamic drag, they also take digitalization in the vehicle to a whole new level.
The Audi e-tron offers the spaciousness and comfort of one of the brand’s typical full-size models. Paired with high-quality materials and fine workmanship, it makes electric mobility a premium experience. This is also ensured by the comprehensive and reliable range of charging options with intelligent solutions for at home and on the go.
From navigation with the e-tron route planner, which displays the appropriate route with the required charging points, automated billing at the charging station and all the way to remote control via smartphone – the Audi e-tron is extremely well connected. It is equipped with the high-end media center MMI navigation plus including LTE Advanced and a Wi-Fi hotspot as standard. Numerous assist systems further relieve the driver. For example, the standard efficiency assist promotes an economic driving style by displaying predictive information and performing automatic recuperation. If the customer selects the adaptive cruise assist, the system can also brake and accelerate the electric SUV predictively.
The Audi e-tron rolls off the assembly line at the CO2-neutral plant in Brussels. Initial deliveries to European customers are planned for late 2018. The starting price of the electric SUV in Germany is 79,900 euros.
Further information on the Audi e-tron is available at www.e-tron.audi.
myAudi and the networked car as the gateway to the customer’s world
The myAudi digital ecosystem plays a key role in the new business model. The intuitive platform is the central starting point for the customer, where all digital services can be booked, used and managed. Audi is employing this approach to achieve a competitive edge for the brand’s customers in the digitally networked world.
With the market launch of the new A8, Audi will also be presenting the update to the myAudi app. This is a direct interface with the customer. User feedback will allow the company to continuously develop it further.
Depending on the model, the customer can use various remote functions via smartphone to lock or unlock the car, for instance, or to check the parking position and access the vehicle status report. This report contains information about whether the windows and doors are closed as well as the fuel tank and oil levels. In addition, the customer can use the app to conveniently program the optional auxiliary heating.
With the introduction of the Audi e-tron, the first all-electric SUV from the brand, the current charging status and the remaining electrical range can also be accessed via an app. The driver can activate the charging process and climate control remotely – always at the right time with the use of individual timers. If requested, information about recent trips, including average electrical energy consumption, is available to the driver at all times.
The smartphone application also offers added value when planning routes: The new myAudi navigation perfectly complements the built-in navigation with a variety of possible applications. Customers planning their trip can conveniently enter the destination in the app from home and send it to the car. The myAudi app’s First Mile Navigation will then guide the customer to the location of his or her Audi. The car’s navigation takes over from there and seamlessly continues the active route guidance. At the end of the journey, the myAudi app’s Last Mile Navigation leads the customer to the final destination. This way the driver can also quickly and easily manage the last few feet or meters to the destination, even if it is in a pedestrian zone.
Customers can also use myAudi to search for the Audi partner of their choice. In coming years, Audi will be launching numerous other new services on the market on this basis – services that will also integrate the world outside the automobile.
Premium mobility at the touch of a button
The desire for individual mobility continues unabated. For many people, however, this no longer necessarily means having to own your own car. Studies show that by the end of the next decade every third Audi worldwide will be shared and no longer privately owned.
New customer needs due to social developments, diversification and urbanization require new solutions for mobility, especially in urban regions. Audi is the only automobile manufacturer with a consistent premium strategy for flexible car use. The Audi on demand mobility concept combines maximum freedom for various customer needs, an excellent service and driving experience, individual freedom of choice from an exceptionally broad portfolio and hourly billing.
Audi on demand is currently scaling up internationally. Audi has acquired the start-up Silvercar Inc. in the United States. Through this acquisition, Audi has obtained a strong player in the car rental business and is continuing to drive development of digital mobility services in the American market. In the future, the company will offer flexible and individual access to premium mobility under the name Silvercar by Audi. The company is gradually expanding its fleet – and is also adding the new Audi e-tron to its model range. Most recently, Audi of America announced a new subscription program, that is powered by Silvercar’s proprietary technology and will continue to offer consumers access to the Audi brand when, where, and how they want it.
The international Audi on demand network has grown continuously since the beginning of 2018 with new locations in Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. Options for use are also increasingly flexible. From shopping centers and apartment buildings to Audi dealers – Audi on demand adapts the locations individually to the local conditions and customer needs in the market. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the respective Audi partners act as the point of contact for customers. In Hong Kong the service is available in private apartment buildings, in Audi showrooms and at an exclusive shopping mall.
This year Audi hopes to achieve a six-figure customer base with its mobility services and addition of Silvercar. The aim is to have an Audi on demand presence in 15 markets around the world by 2020. The destinations available to date form the basis for a profitable network. Audi on demand complements and combines the new and used car businesses with the after-sales business.
Dealership of the future and digital products
Ordering a used car from your sofa. As part of its initiative to become a digital car dealership, Audi is the first premium manufacturer to establish an extensive online platform in Germany as a joint, agile project with dealers and Audi Financial Services.
This platform combines purchasing with payment options, registration and personal delivery. Customers can now buy Audi Approved:plus models around the clock on a new, proprietary Audi online platform and have them delivered throughout Germany at the time and place of their choice. Users of the platform can also conclude vehicle financing immediately online – quite conveniently from home via their PC or mobile device.
Once the pilot phase ends with around 70 contract partners in Germany, Audi will more than double the number of participating dealers in the course of 2018 and thus increase its offerings to customers to well over 2,000 cars that are available immediately online. The manufacturer is receiving particularly positive feedback here for the home delivery option. Audi is now successively expanding the platform with more functions, including additional services and products. In addition, the partners will also be able to offer new vehicles from their stock through the platform. Audi is connecting additional partners in stages and is also working on an international rollout of the online platform. In the future, new cars will also be available through the shop.
The digitization initiative in dealerships includes additional measures such as a digital service station where customers can drop off or pick up their cars individually and conveniently for service – including payment – regardless of the dealership’s opening hours.
So-called “functions on demand”, which will be starting in mid of 2019, also represent a new business segment. The customer can also book special equipment here, for example from the field of infotainment, lighting or assistance systems flexibly and as needed after purchase. The order runs directly through the MMI in the car, through the myAudi app or in the myAudi portal. The dealership is always involved – during the consultation, for instance, at the vehicle handover or in the after-sales services – and is remunerated according to activity.
Audi is developing these promising concepts step by step and in close cooperation with its partners. They are working together to continuously optimize the user experience and to make it possible for users to also enjoy a competitive edge in the virtual world of networked services. Audi has set itself the goal of being number one in customer experience. A seamless omnichannel sales and service experience links the virtual world with the real one – whether online, in the car or directly at the dealership.
Looking to the future – digitalization as part of the Audi Strategy
Digital business models are part of a comprehensive corporate strategy. The top priority is always to make daily mobility even easier and more flexible for the customer.
The new customized sales services are one more milestone on the way to becoming a premium digital car company. This tactical step fits logically into the strategic objective that Audi has set for itself by 2025. As one of three megatrends, digitalization, together with sustainability and urbanization, will create the impetus for the next competitive edge – made by Audi.