Dirk Arnold is returning to Audi in Ingolstadt after approximately 16 years. He previously worked for the brand with Four Rings from 1992 until 2002, in his last position as Head of Marketing Germany. He then moved to BMW, where he held various responsible positions in product and corporate communications from 2007 onwards. Among other things, Arnold was Vice President Corporate Communications of the Americas for the BMW Group from 2011 until 2014. Most recently, he was Head of Product Management BMW i and e-Mobility.
Arnold’s predecessor, Toni Melfi, was Head of Audi Communications since 2007. Following his training as a journalist, he worked for organizations including the daily newspaper Südkurier, the car magazine auto motor und sport, the business magazine WirtschaftsWoche and the companies DaimlerChrysler and MTU Friedrichshafen.
Time‑consuming and material‑intensive masking off is no longer necessary when painting without overspray. For spraying a contrasting color, employees previously had to mask off the relevant part of the car body and then paint it separately with a second spray process. With overspray‑free painting, a robot‑controlled high‑precision instrument now measures the laser‑brazed seam between the roof and the side‑panel frame before each car is painted. A special applicator then applies the black paint directly to the car body in individual strips with millimeter accuracy. The applicator places the strips of paint with sharp borders and without any spray mist – that is, without any overspray.
This method saves time and money, and the environment also benefits. On the one hand, no more masking material is needed; on the other hand, less paint is required. Audi plans to put the innovative process into series production already next year. In this way, the automobile manufacturer will offer its customers even more possibilities for individualization.
In the new model year, the Audi A4 stands out with a more striking front-end from the design and sport lines and above. Powerful, pentagonal contours surround the exterior air inlets – aluminum-look bars structure their inside. The S line exterior package features new bumpers with a sportier look. Their pronounced wedge-shaped design makes them even more eyecatching. A U-shaped clip separates the exterior and the interior area, which is finished off with a honeycomb grille. Separate openings in the air inlets guide a portion of the airflow into the wheel housings, where it flows past the wheels.
The Singleframe grille also helps differentiate between the equipment lines. In the S line exterior package, the grille now also features slats with a 3D look. A blade finishes off the lower part of the front-end. The rear bumper also comes standard in the new look. Two wide, trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes replace the previous round tailpipes. The diffuser area between the exhaust tailpipes is now narrower. The wheels, which are available in 16 to 19-inch versions, have also been redesigned.
The S line competition equipment package is also making its debut in the A4 model line. It includes a host of exclusive new features – the blade in the front bumper and the stone-chip guard strip in selenite silver, an RS rear spoiler on the A4 Avant and, among other things, the new Turbo Blue paint finish. The four rings logo is in the lower section of the rear doors, in either silver or black, depending on the exterior paint color. The equipment package also provides customers with sporty technology features – Audi Sport 19-inch wheels, red brake calipers, sport suspension and LED headlights.
In the interior, the S line competition builds on the S line black interior package, supplementing it with RS carbon inlays, a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel and black partial leather sport seats. Alternatively, customers can also opt for S sport seats in magma red or in other colors.
In Germany, pre-sales of the Audi A4 Sedan and the A4 Avant, model year 2019, will start in the third quarter of 2018.
“We are permanently in contact with the approval authority and continually providing information about the results of the systematic testing of our diesel engines,” explains Bernd Martens, member of the Audi Board of Management responsible for Procurement, who heads the internal taskforce for reappraising the diesel crisis. “Our supreme interest is unconditional clarification. That is something we want to demonstrate tomorrow at the certification which will also include a visit to our test benches.”
The new WLTP test procedure (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure) and the simultaneous systematic testing of the engine management software represent a major challenge for Audi employees and for the test benches. Following the detailed work of recent months, Audi has reconfigured many processes and introduced so-called “Golden Rules” for the Vehicle Development division. Together with the new behavioral guidelines packaged in the “Code of Conduct”, there is now a rulebook that defines uniform standards across the entire Group. Amongst other things, this specifies a multiple-control principle and clear and shared responsibilities to describe the many steps on the road to type approval, documenting this precisely and ensuring compliance.
“We know that we have to win back confidence. We shall continue to invest all our efforts into doing this and to demonstrate it convincingly. We have introduced many improvements since the end of 2015, and there are more to come. Meetings such as this one are an opportunity to convince our partners that we are doing everything we can to demonstrate our reliability”, Martens continues.
The general operating permit is an essential part of the approval procedure and is issued in Germany by the KBA. With this certificate, the authority confirms to the carmaker that its tested model is compliant with valid regulations and can be approved for use on public highways.
“What Monaco is for Formula 1, is for rallycross Höljes,” says the Swedish Audi factory driver. “The atmosphere is unique and the circuit one of the best on the world championship calendar. The coolest thing is the extremely fast right-hand corner taken at around 170 km/h just before the jump. Immediately after comes the most spectacular jump of the entire season.”
Höljes with just 150 inhabitants lies deep in the forests of central Sweden, around 200 kilometers from the next large town (Karlstad). Some 40,000 fans make the pilgrimage here for the world championship round in summer. Every year they hold a huge party with music, BBQ and spectacular motorsport. “Höljes is the ‘magic weekend’ for every rallycross driver that everybody would love to win,” says Ekström’ teammate Andreas Bakkerud. “It is not just a big thing for the many Swedish teams and drivers. I also eagerly look forward to the race every year.”
Ekström and Bakkerud both know how it feels to triumph in the pandemonium of Höljes. In 2014, Ekström collected the first victory in his home race for his rallycross team. In 2015, he won again. Bakkerud won in 2013 and 2016 and in his five previous Supercar outings in Sweden he stood on the podium every time. “Of course I want to continue this series with the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro,” says the Norwegian, who will be accompanied to the season highlight by around 250 of his loyal fans. Because there are no hotels in Höljes, they live in a dedicated ‘Bakkerud Blue’ camp directly at the race track.
EKS Audi Sport reports from its home race on Sunday (July 1) from 14:15 (CEST) with its own live show on Facebook (www.facebook.com/EKSRX). From 15:00 the finals are broadcast live as usual on livestream at www.fiaworldrallycross.com. ProSieben Fun broadcasts live in Germany.