Audi bosses have vowed that the company will bounce back this year after the impact of new WLTP emissions tests led to a sharp drop in sales and profits in 2018.
The firm’s finance boss, Alexander Seitz, said at its 2019 press conference that it’s better prepared for the second round of WLTP emissions legislation and aims to have a general operating permit for all of its powertrains by the end of 2019.
Along with simplifying its product portfolio, meeting the new regulations will allow Audi to reduce its fleet emissions, which Seitz says will help it distance itself from the long-lasting impact of the Volkswagen Group’s Dieselgate scandal.
Environmental concerns and the need to meet ever-tightening CO2 emissions restrictions form an integral part of Audi’s plan for the coming years. It has set goals of making all its plants CO2-neutral and introducing 30 new electric vehicles by 2025. This is part of a wider electrification programme within the Volkswagen Group, which will result in the launch of around 70 electric models across its various brands by 2030.
Asked whether now is the right time for such an investment in EV technologies, Audi CEO Bram Schot said that feedback from customers suggests “60-70% of drivers of electric cars are loyal to electrification” and that response to the brand’s new E-Tron electric SUV has been overwhelmingly positive.
Seitz also said that an event such as Dieselgate “will never, ever happen again”. Audi has strengthened its multi-person checking system for each new vehicle and tightened its internal documentation process.
In the US, the brand has already bought back or fixed 85% of its vehicles affected by the emissions scandal and paid a fine of £683 million to the German government.