Economy, Auto

Audi to Go Electric by 2025, Volvo Autonomous by 2021

Audi to Go Electric by 2025, Volvo Autonomous by 2021Audi to Go Electric by 2025, Volvo Autonomous by 2021

Audi aims to have three electric models by 2020, which should account for 25 to 30% of its sales by 2025, CEO Rupert Stadler told a German newspaper.

Under the plan, which Stadler presented to Audi managers last week, the group will focus more resources on electric cars, digital services and autonomous driving.

Stadler told daily Heilbronner Stimme in an interview published on Saturday that Audi’s offering of electric cars would also include small vehicles in the A-(minicar) segment.

The company also plans to set up a subsidiary, to be called SDS Company, to develop an autonomous car.

“This is about a robot car that may not even need a steering wheel or pedals, so it’s ideal for urban traffic,” Stadler said.

“Audi was still looking for joint venture partners who would help with the technology.”

Audi’s electric cars push, reported by Reuters earlier this week, is part of a strategic overhaul following the emissions scandal at parent Volkswagen Group.

Audi has so far said it will build an electric SUV at its plant in Belgium based on the e-tron quattro concept unveiled at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show.

“We have discussed what would happen if we dropped the two-door version of the A3. I think we would barely lose any customers. We’d rather invest the money that is freed up in new models and other derivatives,” stadler said.

In addition, Stadler said fuel cell cars were a “must”, though he said he could not yet say how large demand would be.

“That is less a question of technology; we are already quite good at that. It’s rather going to be a question of infrastructure,” he said.

Audi’s technical development chief, Stefan Knirsch, told the Stuttgarter Zeitung in a separate interview published on Saturday said that he expected Audi would not start serial production of a fuel cell car before 2020 because of the lack of charging stations.

Meanwhile in Sweden, Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson has revealed in an interview that Volvo will deliver fully autonomous cars to customers by 2021, that is, in just five years.

Volvo has been rather vocal about the dangers of fully autonomous systems to drive cars, and criticizing carmakers–such as Tesla–who fit systems that appear to be fully autonomous but really are not.

Volvo’s reputation has at its heart safety and any autonomous driving system that cannot deal with any eventuality that arises–and effectively needs to hand control to a human when it gets stumped–clearly is not safe or fully autonomous.

So when Volvo says it will deliver a fully autonomous car to the market by 2021, as Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson has said to Bloomberg in an interview, it must mean a proper, level-4 autonomous car that Volvo is happy to back up by accepting liability for any accident that occurs.

But if Volvo is to meet Samuelsson’s target, it has a chunk of work to do, because although it is rolling out autonomous trials in Sweden, China and London next year–with up to 300 cars hitting the road in the hands of ordinary motorists to shake down the technology–it still does not have all the bases covered.

According to Samuelsson, Volvo still needs to sign up partners to work on the software and cloud services, but acknowledges it is looking into various partnerships at the moment.