At its keynote address at the first CES Asia, held in Shanghai last week, Audi made many statements about how automotive change is being accelerated by developments within the electronic sphere.
According to Rupert Stadler, chairman of Audi, “We are experiencing a digital revolution with an impact faster and stronger than the Industrial Revolution in Europe 150 years ago”.
This, in the chairman’s opinion, is changing the way the company engineers, builds and markets its vehicles, as well as with whom it collaborates. It’s also changing the nature of the car itself. “The new car is far more than hardware,” Stadler said. “It is an interface between the driver and his digital life, between the car systems and traffic infrastructure and finally between our customer and us.”
Ricky Hudi, vice president for electronic development at Audi, stated bluntly that “90 per cent of all innovation in automotive is related to electronics”.
For the German automaker, the current “megatrends” in the industry are: connectivity, infotainment, human machine interface, lighting, and driver assistance that will one day turn into autonomous driving systems.
Changes are coming to connectivity and infotainment thanks to the involvement of the companies behind the two largest smartphone platforms, Android and iOS. The shift begins this year, as mass-market brands, such as Chevrolet and Hyundai, through to luxury players start retailing infotainment systems compatible with both the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay mirroring standards.
To highlight just how quickly driver assistance systems are morphing into self-driving cars, the company was, according to Automotive News, offering CES Asia attendees rides in one of its A7 Piloted Driving development vehicles. Along roughly eight kilometres of city highways, the A7 drives itself and participants from the expo centre down to Shanghai’s historic Bund waterfront.
Luca de Meo, the company’s sales chief, says that Audi believes that “by 2020, 50 percent of value creation will be based on new technologies”.