AUDI has committed to increasing its spend on research and development in the wake of the Dieselgate emissions scandal that looks set to cost parent company Volkswagen tens of billions of dollars and further damage to its reputation.
Speaking at the company’s annual financial results press conference – in which it was revealed the emissions scandal contributed to a 6 percent drop in operating profit to 5.1 billion Euro ($A7.6 billion) – Audi board member for engineering, Sefan Knirsch, denied the company had slashed its future development spend and was instead increasing the investment on future technologies.
“It’s increasing; year-on-year we have increased, let’s say, 5 percent, something like this, because we’re pretty aware we have to spend money in the new technologies and for some new technologies Audi is the leader in the [Volkswagen] Group,” said Knirsch.
“Of course we’re looking carefully at our R&D expenses but we will never harm our future. We are prioritising projects as we do every time … of course these are the mega trends, like electrification, autonomous driving, these sorts of things.”
Audi is working towards growing its model range by 20 percent by 2020 for a total of 60 vehicles.
And by the end of the year the company will update or unveil 20 models, including an all-new Q5 SUV, S4 sedan and Avant (wagon), A4 Allroad, Q7 e-Tron (plug-in hybrid) and the Audi SQ7 unveiled this week.
However, a long rumoured move to Formula 1 appears to have been shelved following the Dieselgate scandal, with Audi instead to remain in existing motorsport disciplines.
“I think Formula 1 for Audi is currently not a topic,” said Knirsch. “We are still focusing at WEC (World Endurance Championship) and DTM (German touring cars), where we are very strong – we want to win this year; in Le Mans this is our clear focus.”