Audi to compete in Dakar Rally

“A multifaceted commitment to motorsport is and will remain an integral part of Audi’s strategy,” says Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management and Board of Management Member for Technical Development and Product Lines at AUDI AG. “We want to continue demonstrating the brand’s slogan ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ in international top-level motorsport in the future and develop innovative technologies for our road cars. The toughest rally in the world is the perfect stage for this.”

After many international successes in a wide range of categories, Audi is thus returning to rallying, which marked the beginning of the brand’s successful history in motorsport. From 1981, the Audi quattro revolutionized rallying. Today, permanent four-wheel drive is a standard, not only for rally cars. It also guarantees maximum safety in the sportiest Audi production models, and now also electrically in the e-tron models.

With the use of an alternative drive concept in the Dakar Rally, Audi is now facing up to the most extreme conditions. The vehicle will be driven by a powerful electric drivetrain. The energy required for this comes from a high-voltage battery, which can be charged as required while driving via an energy converter in the form of a highly efficient TFSI engine. The aim is to permanently improve the performance of the electric drivetrain and the battery in the years to come. The experience gained in this process should then be incorporated into the further development of future electrified production models. 

Audi is the first car manufacturer that has committed to develop a viable alternative drive concept for the Dakar Rally, making it a pioneer in motorsport once again. In 2012, Audi achieved the first victory of a hybrid racing car in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro remained unbeaten in the world’s most important endurance race three times in a row.

Since 2014, Audi has also been successful in fully-electric racing with Formula E. First in a supporting role for the team of its longstanding partner ABT Sportsline, and from 2017 with full factory involvement. After six years, the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team is the most successful entry in the history of Formula E with a total of 43 podium finishes, including twelve victories. Special highlights include winning the drivers’ title in 2017 and the teams’ title in the first season on a factory level in 2018.

“Formula E has accompanied the transformation phase at Audi,” says Markus Duesmann. “Today, electromobility at the four rings is no longer a dream of the future, but the present.” The Audi e-tron is a bestseller in many markets. With the RS e-tron GT, Audi will soon bring its sporty spearhead onto the road. And as early as 2025, around 40 percent of sales are expected to be achieved with purely-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. “This is why we are taking the next step in electrified motorsport by facing the most extreme conditions. The many technical freedoms offered by the Dakar Rally provide a perfect test laboratory for us in this respect.”

The Dakar Rally will replace Audi’s factory involvement in Formula E, which will no longer be continued in the form of an Audi factory team after the 2021 season. The use of the newly developed Audi powertrain by customer teams will remain possible beyond next year. 

New line-up for Audi in motorsport

From December 1, 2020, Julius Seebach will assume responsibility for the company’s international motorsport activities in addition to his role as Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. Dieter Gass, who has held management positions at Audi Sport for almost ten years and was jointly responsible for the sporting success as Head of Audi Motorsport from 2017 to 2020, will devote himself to new tasks in the future following the successful conclusion of the factory program in the DTM.

“I am convinced that Julius Seebach is the right person for the repositioning of the motorsport activities,” says Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management and Board Member for Technical Development of AUDI AG. “On behalf of the entire Board of Management, I would like to thank Dieter Gass for his tireless efforts. Above all, he stands for the almost unbelievable success we have had in the DTM, especially in the last two years. But, Dieter Gass is also responsible for the successful entry into Formula E. I myself have been in motorsport for almost my whole life and I know how much passion and personal commitment is necessary to be successful in motorsport.”

After earning a master’s (German diploma) degree in Electromechanical Engineering Design (EMK) at the Technical University Darmstadt, Gass gathered initial professional experience with AUDI AG in Ingolstadt in development and testing of anti-lock braking systems. From November 1994 to March 2001, he worked for Audi Sport as an engineer and race engineer. From 2001 to 2011, Dieter Gass was involved in the Toyota and Lotus Formula 1 projects in leading roles, before returning to AUDI AG at the beginning of 2012. In the newly created position as Head of Racing Commitments, Gass played an instrumental part in achieving Audi’s title wins in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). In 2013, as Head of DTM, Gass took over the popular international touring car series at Audi. In 2017, Gass succeeded Wolfgang Ullrich in the role of Head of Audi Motorsport. Since then, Gass has been responsible for all of Audi’s international factory commitments in motorsport.

Jump-start a successful career: New Audi Global Graduate Program

The participants in the Audi Global Graduate Program will receive comprehensive training in their target work area by passing through a total of five stations over a period of 18 months. The areas of employment are in five strategic vocational fields: product and technology – IT, processes, and digitalization – validation and compliance – market and finance – human resources and organization. In addition to stations at the sites in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, the program also includes a stay abroad and an individual “stopover” at another brand within the Volkswagen Group.

The program was developed in close cooperation between current Audi trainees and the team headed by Celina Beci and Angelika Pitter. The two part-time managers share the job of managing the Audi Career Development Programs. Angelika Pitter is convinced: “The Audi Global Graduate Program offers career starters various changes of perspective at home and abroad and allows them to build a broad network within the Group.” Pitter’s tandem partner Celina Beci adds: “The individual competence development with a focus on topics such as agility and digitalization gives the trainees the optimum preparation they need for the working world at Audi. One nice highlight is that the trainees are accompanied in the program by members of the management who provide them with comprehensive mentoring and coaching, which allows them to develop on both a professional and personal level in the course of the year and a half.”

The application period for the Audi Global Graduate Program starts on December 4. We are looking for open-minded and curious people who take a positive and optimistic approach to change and enjoy flourishing in an international and diverse team. Topics such as living progress

and the future of mobility should not be alien concepts to applicants. The application phase in December will be followed by interviews in January and an Assessment Center from February to March. The program will begin in April 2021. Interested parties can visit the program website for information on all the details and applyuntil the middle of December.

Audi receives anti-stigma prize for “Everyone has a psyche. Why not talk about it?”

“The campaign has brought a lot of change to Audi. Our colleagues now feel much freer to talk about their mental health and to seek out dialogue much earlier when they are not well,” said Ute Heinrich, project manager of “Everyone has a psyche. Why not talk about it?” The aim of the campaign was to further destigmatize mental illness – both within the company and in society as a whole. And the initiators of Audi Health Management have certainly achieved this goal. “Our entire project team is absolutely overwhelmed by the response and the program’s enormous popularity with Audi employees,” Heinrich said.

A multitude of activities

The occupational health management team from many different departments, the Audi BKK and the Audi Works Council launched the campaign last year on Mental Health Day (October 10). Through events, movie nights, discussion groups, information booths, podcasts, expert lectures, flyers and seminars on mindfulness, Audi employees have learned how to activate a positive mindset – for themselves and their fellow human beings. In addition to tools for self-care, participants also were given information about prevention and the many support options available. Since March, the programs have been presented in digital form only due to the coronavirus. The motto has meanwhile been modified at Audi – now it goes: “Everyone has a psyche! We are talking about it!”

Robert Buttenhauser becomes the new Board Member for Engine Production at Audi Hungaria

„Robert Buttenhauser is a true connoisseur of Audi Hungaria and in his previous positions has helped to build up the Hungarian engine plant. Robert Buttenhauser is a true connoisseur of Audi Hungaria and has helped to build up the Hungarian engine plant in his previous positions. We are looking forward to his expertise in production planning, in the drive technologies of combustion and electric engines, as well as in engine production”, says Alfons Dintner, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI HUNGARIA Zrt.

The new Member of the Board of Management, Robert Buttenhauser was born in in Fürth in 1969. The graduate production engineer started his career at AUDI AG in 1995.

After initial positions in vehicle production and various manufacturing operations in the engine area, Buttenhauser was responsible for various projects in production at Audi Hungaria for quality improvement and the establishment of an operations management function in engine production. He then took over the quality area department of component production and delivery processing of group deliveries for the Ingolstadt vehicle plant, as well as the coordination of group deliveries of aggregates for the Audi Group, before taking over the quality department of purchased parts, measuring room and laboratory at Audi Hungaria.

Since 2010, Buttenhauser has been responsible for the planning management of the VW aggregate plant in Silao, then for further engine projects in Győr and at international VW locations in China and India. Since 2017 he has been Head of Planning Powertrain and Chassis Components at AUDI AG.

“I would like to thank Thoralf Hanschel for his outstanding performance for Audi Hungaria. Over the past two years, he has been driving forward the transformation process in powertrain production with commitment and has made a significant contribution to the electrification of Audi Hungaria and the entire Group by ramping up production of electric engines. During his time, the next stage in the digitalization of processes in drive production was also successfully implemented – a major contribution to achieving the company’s goals. I wish Mr. Hanschel every success in his new position. He will remain a strong partner for Audi Hungaria in his new area of responsibility,” said Alfons Dintner Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi Hungaria Zrt.