Board Member for Production and Logistics, Audi
TITLE: Board member for production and logistics
BASED: Ingolstadt, Germany
A native of Reutlingen, Germany, Gerd Walker started his career at Audi in 1997 as a student, writing his thesis on concept design for small-series production. After completing his degree at the University of Stuttgart, he took a job as a concept designer in manufacturing in Ingolstadt. Walker then held a series of management posts in production, including as head of product and process development, body construction and exterior, in the pre-series center, and from 2009-12, board speaker for the production division. In 2012 he was named head of vehicle production in Gyor, Hungary; in 2016 he moved to VW Group and managed production strategy in Wolfsburg. In 2018 he was named head of production at VW Group Wolfsburg. Walker was named to his current post at Audi in February 2022.
REASONS FOR WINNING
Audi, like other automakers, is taking a hard look at its production process as it faces the twin challenges of the switch to electrification and a new emphasis on sustainability, energy efficiency and the circular economy. The VW Group premium brand has set a goal of selling 3 million vehicles a year by 2030 while it is gradually replacing internal combustion cars with EVs, a challenge for Walker as he realigns the production footprint, starting with the automaker's Brussels factory, which has been making only electric cars since 2018. Under the Mission:Zero plan, Audi’s production will be net carbon neutral by 2025.
Going beyond carbon neutrality, Walker and his team are seeking ways to handle scarce resources more effectively, and create a viable recycling stream. Audi is looking to make the entire life cycle of its vehicles carbon neutral, including factoring in Scope 3 emissions from suppliers. As an intermediate step, it is targeting a 40 percent CO2 reduction per vehicle by 2030, compared with 2018, with a key component closing what it calls the "material loop" to, for example, reuse aluminum or steel scrap instead of reselling it on the secondary market. In a test of the process, Audi is planning to produce 15,000 door parts for the A4 compact using steel from dismantled older Audis. And in Brussels, Audi is bringing online a new "circular" water system that promises to save 100,000 cubic meters of freshwater demand from the plant annually on the Belgian capital city's water system.