Audi is set to digitalise many of its customer-facing operations and launch 20 new or upgraded vehicles by the end of the year with the help of a £2.4 billion cash injection.
Models including an upgraded A3 hatchback, new S4 saloon, the Q2 SUV, SQ7 TDI and the Q7 e-tron, are all among the 2016 plans for the brand, which is anticipating the dawn of autonomous driving in 2025.
Digitisation of the brand’s vehicles and services was also on the agenda at the Audi Group’s annual meeting in Ingoldstadt this week, leading to suggestions that it will soon usher in a raft of online service booking and customer facilities.
Axel Strotbek, board member for finance and organization of Audi AG, told the meeting: “Customers can experience digital technologies in our cars as well as through our services – in the form of significantly enhanced comfort, safety and service. This is a basic requirement that we must fulfil if we are to continue to delight customers with our premium automobiles in the future.
“Technologies for digitisation are therefore an area of focus for our investment measures. The digital transformation is changing our entire environment and therefore also existing business models.”
Audi’s annual meeting came after the group enjoyed its most successful ever year in sales terms, selling 1.8 million cars globally – up around 600,000 on 2015 – realised operating profits for the last financial year of £3.8bn.
Brand CEO Rupert Stadler said that Audi will invest £2.4bn into the business during 2016.
But Stadler warned that the financial climate was not without risk, not least following the brand’s embroilment in the dieselgate scandal. He said: “The burden resulting from the diesel issue has not been relieved. Innumerable regional zones continue to affect us.
“Europe is holding its breath to the refugee crisis and the threat of the UK’s exit from the EU.
“However, we aim to continue our growth in 2016.”