Since arriving at Audi from Volvo earlier this year, Peter Mertens has had to move fast. The Volkswagen Group subsidiary is striving to take the early lead in the race to offer autonomous driving technology with the Level 3-capable A8 sedan. Audi also plans to debut one full-electric car each year from 2018 until 2020. Mertens explained how Audi plans to achieve its autonomous and e-mobility goals and shared how it will deepen ties with sister brand Porsche when he met with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Christiaan Hetzner at the Frankfurt auto show last month.
You've confirmed three electric vehicles, what else is planned for Audi under the new Roadmap E?
Models will come one after the other because we have a target that is somewhat more ambitious than the VW Group. By 2025, a third of our sales will come from plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles.
What can we expect from the Premium Platform Electric, which Audi and Porsche are developing jointly?
We have the lead for two of the three model families from the PPE architecture. We have broken the teams' technical responsibilities down to the level of individual modules and systems. In the past, this is something that never really happened between these two companies on this scale. It shows what kind of potential we can leverage through the group.
Will Audi focus on the A4 and A6 segments?
Yes, that could very well be.
How much of the platform's volume will come from each brand?
The split could be about 60 percent Audi and 40 percent Porsche.
Audi aims to eliminate up to 40 percent of its drive systems in the long-term. What do you have in mind?
We will thin out our engine-transmission combinations, but entire engine families might also disappear. Do we really need a V-10 and W-12 for the next generation of cars? We get questioned about the [future of the] V-8, and in particular the diesel, but I cannot imagine we will do without it. We have a very important group of customers that really wants eight-cylinder engines in larger vehicles. Will it exist forever? No, but [it will] for a rather long time.