Audi R8 and TT face the axe

Traditional sports cars face electric reinvention as part of a wide-ranging product strategy review

New Audi chairman Markus Duesmann has instigated a wide-ranging review of the firm’s future product strategy in a bid to increase the cost-cutting already put in place by his predecessor.

Duesmann, who took control at Ingolstadt after Bram Schot retired in April, has extended the measures bundled together in the so-called Audi Transformation Plan in a move that, Autocar has been told, “aims to provide an even more effective streamlining of operations and greater savings”.

A number of combustion-engined Audi models could be under threat as a result.

As part of efforts to reduce spending, Duesmann is claimed to have called into question the future of many traditional Audi models, including the TT and R8 – both of which might be relaunched as fully electric cars, according to a source close to the Audi chairman.

“Cars like the TT and R8 were reviewed as part of a general cost-cutting process in the past. However, they have now come under increased focus,” the source told Autocar.

Audi’s combustion-engined model platform strategy is also under review. Although Audi draws on the Volkswagen-developed MQB platform for its smaller models, the firm still bears the brunt of expenditure for the development of the MLB structure, which is used on the A4, A6, A8, Q5, Q7 and Q8.

One move that could lead to an even closer working relationship between Audi and fellow Volkswagen Group brand Porsche is a proposal that calls for the MLB platform to be “more systematically paired” with the MSB platform, which was developed by Porsche and is used by Porsche’s Panamera and the Bentley Continental GT.

Audi and Porsche have carried out a number of joint developments in recent years, including the V6 petrol engine that’s used throughout both of their line-ups.

They have also teamed up on the development of the PPE (Porsche Premium Electric) platform. This will be used first by an electric version of the second-generation Porsche Macan and then a battery-powered successor to the Q5.

Initiated by Schot in 2018, the Audi Transformation Plan is already claimed to have netted €4.4 billion (AUD$7.36 billion) in operational savings. In all, Audi is seeking savings of up to €15bn (AUD$25.01 billion) by the end of 2022 – €12bn (AUD$20.05 billion) of which is planned to be poured into the development of EVs.

Before Duesmann’s arrival, Audi said it planned to introduce “approximately 30 electric models by 2025”. Of these, 20 are expected to be fully electric, while the remaining 10 will be plug-in hybrid models.

All up, Audi plans to invest €37bn (£33.5bn) in research and development and in plants and equipment up to 2025.

A significant amount of the savings made under the Audi Transformation Plan to date are centred around a strategy to streamline software development activities within the  Volkswagen Group.

Greg Kable

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