Volkswagen Group for years was critical of electrically assisted vehicles such as hybrids, but those days are over. Ulrich Hackenberg, one of VW Group’s top-ranking engineers as well as Audi’s board member for technical development, says "the electric car is the future." He spoke about the importance of the forthcoming A3 E-tron plug-in hybrid to the brand and Audi’s efforts to prove that it remains committed to Vorsprung durch Technik (advancement through technology). Hackenberg was interviewed by Guido Reinking, editor of Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche.
The electric car has been regarded quite critically in the Volkswagen Group for its high costs and restricted range. Aren’t you overlooking the emotionality and driving fun of e-mobility?
The electric car is the future. That has been clear to us for a long time. I definitely see the emotional side but the framework data has to fit -- ranging from the available technology, to the infrastructure, all the way to customers’ expectations.
Does Audi need to offer a car like the Tesla Model S?
In a few months the A3 E-tron will be launched as a plug-in hybrid, which is the most attractive alternative powertrain -- and the one most suited to the customer -- in many markets in the world. In markets where there are many early adopters, take California as an example, I can also imagine a high-end electric sports car.