CHINA: Audi opens R&D centre for Asia in Beijing
With the opening of the new 'Audi R&D Centre Asia' in Beijing, Audi says it is further strengthening its innovation capability in Asia and deepening cooperation with its partner FAW-Volkswagen in China.
The research and development teams will be active in product customisation for Asian customers, including electronics and connectivity solutions. The engineers will also develop advanced technologies such as components for new-energy vehicles and efficient powertrains. The center is part of Audi's global R&D and will closely cooperate with the development departments of FAW-Volkswagen.
"The new Audi R&D Centre Asia is an important milestone in the internationalisation of our innovation capacities," said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG.
"The teams will work in close contact with the customers in Asia. And they will ensure that valuable ideas and innovations from Asia can be integrated into the early conceptual development phase of our products."
Audi Design China is part of the R&D Centre, with designers for exterior, interior and color & trim. The teams get their inspiration from trends in Asia and will transfer new perspectives back to the headquarters in Ingolstadt, where the global design is created.
Asia - with Europe and the Americas - is one of the three main pillars for Audi's global strategy. Audi says it leads the premium segment in China (including Hong Kong) and set a new record in 2012 with deliveries of 405,838 automobiles, an increase of 29.6% compared to the previous year.
The R&D Centre Asia is located inside the new Audi China Building at 751 D-Park in Beijing's creative district. In 2012, Audi China, the FAW-Volkswagen Audi Sales Division and its dealerships cooperated to establish the first ever brand cup of Audi worldwide: The Audi R8 LMS Cup finished its first season with 12 races in China and will expand to other Asian locations in 2013. "We will continue to support global Audi activities in the Asian region," said Dr. Dietmar Voggenreiter, President of Audi China. "And we will further intensify the cooperation with our joint venture FAW-Volkswagen in Changchun."
Audi says its engineers in Beijing have successfully developed tailored infotainment solutions for China, Japan and Korea since 2008 - including a touchpad for the navigation system which allows handwritten input of Asian characters. Together with engineers from FAW-Volkswagen, a special Audi connect call-centre service for China has been created.
With the new centre, the number of R&D staff in Beijing has increased from 40 to over 300. The R&D functions include engine, body, electronics and battery development, a prototype workshop, vehicle test facilities and state-of-the-art 3D development environments. The laboratories, prototype and R&D workshops cover an area of over 8,000 square meters. The head of the Audi R&D Centre Asia is Lorenz Fuehrlinger.
"With this beautiful facility and its highly skilled and motivated designers, engineers and technicians, we are in a unique position to identify the needs of our customers in China and Asia," said Wolfgang Dürheimer, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development of AUDI AG.
"And we can act quickly to include the required features in our cars."
Beijing is also the headquarters of Volkswagen Group China, and Audi will closely cooperate with the Volkswagen R&D functions, some of which will be located in the same building at 751 D-Park. "With this R&D centre, Audi is entering a new stage of development in Asia. Consumers in this region, and especially the Chinese consumers, have an increasingly high level of influence on trends in the global automotive industry. And satisfied customers have top priority for Volkswagen Group China and its brands", said Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group China and a member of the Board of Management of VW Group.
The development teams of Audi in Beijing will closely cooperate with the R&D facilities of FAW-Volkswagen in many areas. "FAW-Volkswagen and Audi have had many fruitful cooperative projects - for example on vehicle electrification, powertrains and infotainment systems. Together, the two partners also cooperated with Tongji University in Shanghai. I have great confidence that the decision to set up the Audi R&D Center Asia in China demonstrates the commitment of Audi AG to our partnership and to China's innovation capabilities. It pushes our cooperation onto a new level," said An Tiecheng, President of FAW-Volkswagen.
The Audi R&D teams in Beijing will benefit from the geographic proximity to and the same time zone as FAW-Volkswagen, as well as core Asian markets. Audi says that China's capital city also offers leading universities and talents, a key aspect for Audi's aim to develop local talent in Asia. China, with its large urban centres, is expected to become one of the leading markets for Audi's e-tron vehicles.
Audi says that the Audi R&D Centre Asia positions Audi well to play a driving role in the area of new-energy vehicles. Audi China has already been operating a technical test fleet of Audi e-tron cars in China to test electric drive systems under special conditions such as extreme heat and the traffic patterns of megacities.