When will zero emission powertrains in LCV push ICE off the throne?Predict the crucial tipping point in terms of zero-emission vehicles market share growth.
Next MQ! Innovation Summit|November 8-9, 2018
Emission-free drive systems are becoming more attractive. What strategy is Audi pursuing in this field of technology? Andreas Erwied and Sebastian Falk investigated these questions in their workspace.
drive concepts are undergoing transformation. Can you predict when the sales volume of electric cars will surpass that of cars with combustion engines?
It was not our goal in the workspace to find the philosopher’s stone. That would have been misguided, and the topic is also too complex for that. Infrastructure and customer needs differ sharply in worldwide markets. That leads to various parallel drive technologies. Audi is aligning its strategy to this and is pursuing four approaches: We are making the combustion engine more efficient and hybridizing it, we are developing synthetic fuels for it, we are putting battery-electric cars on the roads, and we are working on the fuel cell as a technology of the future. But to get back to the question: The opinion of the participants in the workspace is that we can expect a notable increase in electric cars by the start of the next decade.
How did the participants come to this conclusion?
In completely different ways.We divided the people up into subgroups to discuss the topic of zero-emission mobility from various directions – technical, social, from the customer’s perspective, with a view to infrastructure, legislation and competition. This fit well with the heterogeneous composition of the groups. We had representatives from research institutes and from suppliers, but also experts in legislation and social responsibility. We wanted to broaden our view in the workspace, and that worked out well.
You both work in a still-young Audi department within drivetrain development.Can you tell us something about your projects there?
We are pre-development engineers – we develop complete drive systems on a time horizon that lies about 5 to 7 years in the futureWhile doing so, we look at all promising technological paths. Sebastian handles innovation management; I am the project manager for the topic of drivetrain strategy.
And you are a well-versed professional in the area of combustion engines, not to say a grease monkey.Can an electric motor be as appealing as a powerful, high-revving suction engine?
Andreas Erwied: Of course, just in a completely different way! Electric motors, with their spontaneous responsiveness and beefy torque delivery, offer their own new style of emotionality.
What exactly motivated you to move to Ingolstadt, to Audi?
The strong desire for change that exists at Audi. I can accomplish a lot here with my team. The spectrum of creative options is extraordinarily wide here. And we quickly acquire broad knowledge about the company, since we have to incorporate all relevant departments during concept development. These include other areas of Technical Development, but also Sales, Finance and Production. We are also constantly inviting colleagues from departments that particularly interest us to small labs and workshops. These might focus on autonomous driving, for instance, or electric charging.
And how do you network externally?
There are a wide range of approaches and tools for that, ranging from a student’s day to an employee team from Airbus that we once had for a visit. Innovation often originates from the transfer of existing technologies onto other industries and applications.Today we can no longer think exclusively within our own boundaries. The areas in which we can no longer do everything on our own are constantly expanding, and here we must be open to the outside. The MQ! has a certain characteristic for us as well – from a high degree of networking throughout the company in the early development phase.
How important are start-ups for you?
Start-ups often recognize customer desires very precisely and can find highly focused responses in their specific niches. I worked for four months at the Audi.Denk-werkstatt. Berlin and learned a lot in that time about working together with company entrepreneurs. By that I don’t mean that Audi should become a startup company. In the areas where we differentiate ourselves from the competition, where things are moving toward the start of volume production, we will continue to be able to best carry out our tasks ourselves. But in the early phase of concept development, where our department is operating, it makes a lot of sense for us to open up.
This networking that you speak of was also a great strength of the MQ!…
Definitely! Audi strongly pushed the networking concept at the MQ! In doing so, this produced a platform with many points of contact. The inspiring keynote speakers surely motivated a lot of people to be even more interested in our company and to perhaps help shape the mobility revolution at Audi themselves as future employees.
The wide-ranging mix of high-caliber participants and presenters almost blew me away. The MQ! was definitely a big plus for everyone who participated. I really hope that there will be another one.
Innovation Manager Powertrain, AUDI AG
Sebastian Falk is managing the innovation of powertrains at Audi. He has deepened his forward thinking approach to technology at „Audi.Denkwerkstatt.Berlin“, working together with upcoming tech-startups. He told us how Audi produces the powertrains of tomorrow.
Senior Manager Powertrain Strategy, AUDI AG
Andreas Erwied is a specialist in powertrains: after his diploma in mechanical engineering he started working for BMW – amongst others supervising their powertrain section in motorsport. Since 2017 he manages the powertrain strategy at Audi. He had a discussion with us on when emission-free transportation will be possible.