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Audi’s Self-Reform as Demonstrated by the New A4L

Date:09-23 14:51 Source:autochina.comnews.cn Authour:Zhu Shiyun

Auto China has compared the entry-level new A4L with the previous generation as well as the low-spec products of BMW and Mercedes at the same dynamic level, and has found that with the same or even a slightly higher dynamic performance, the all-new A4L is priced RMB 30,000-50,000 Yuan lower than its competitors at the same level and also RMB 12,000 lower than its own previous generation.

With the gaps being narrowed within the BBA, how is Audi going to achieve its own breakthroughs?

“The launch of the all-new Audi A4L indicates that a new round of product updates, technological upgrades and competitiveness enhancement of FAW-VW Audi’s locally-made models is beginning.” On September 12th, at the 2016 Audi Summit and Launch Event of the All-New Audi A4L, Jing Qingchun, the new deputy executive general manager of FAW-VW Audi Sales Division, indicated that this launch included 6 models in 2 versions - 2.0 TFSI high/low power engine, sold at a price ranging from RMB 299,800 to 412,800 Yuan. Mr. Ren Siming, GM of FAW-VW Audi Sales Division, said that in the future, Audi’s reform will be conducted in three areas - digitalization, sustainability, and urbanization.

Today, with the gaps being narrowed within the BBA, how is Audi going to achieve its own changes and breakthroughs? You will find part of the answer in the all-new Audi A4L.

Offered at a price of RMB 300,000 Yuan

The A4L is an “old soldier” that has been in the market for 8 years. This time the new-generation A4L intends to use the price as its trump card. Judging from the entry-level price, the all-new A4L is not less expensive than the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes Benz C-Class - perhaps priced even higher - but when you take the dynamic performance into account, you will find that Audi is for real this time.

Auto China has compared the entry-level new A4L with the previous generation as well as the low-spec products of BMW and Mercedes at the same dynamic level, and has found that with the same or even a slightly higher dynamic performance, the all-new A4L is priced RMB 30,000-50,000 Yuan lower than its competitors at the same level and also RMB 12,000 lower than its own previous generation.

“However, this price is not even for the new entry-level A4L,” said an insider to Auto China. “It makes we wonder what kind of price will be offered for the 1.4T model in the future.”

Audi’s Self-Reform as Demonstrated by the New A4L

In the exterior design of the all-new A4L, not much has changed, but its wheelbase is 2908mm, extended by 88mm over the overseas standard version (also 39mm longer than that of the current A4L). Thanks to the lightweight design of the car body, the all-new A4L is 110kg lighter. In terms of the interiors, improvements in the new A4L are quite impressive – the newly designed center console, the 12.3inch LCD panel and the new-generation MMI, etc. Some insiders think that its interior has further optimized the coordination between design and functionality and enhanced the whole design.

In terms of dynamic performance, the all-new A4L carries the third-generation EA888 engine, together with a new 7-speed S-tronic transmission and a dry sump oil system which includes an independent scavenge pump and a cooling system. The same transmission design has also been applied in the all-new R8 V10.

“The question is whether its competitors will follow the price of the all-new A4L in the future,” said the insider to Auto China.

Within the BBA, B-class cars are currently the major contributors to sales.

Auto China’s comparison has found that the Mercedes Benz C Class has become the absolute major sales contributor and is still maintaining its strong upward momentum this year. However, the BMW 3 Series, also one of BMW’s major sales contributors, finds itself not so popular in China as in overseas markets and is under a lot of pressure. For Audi, the contributions of all the different models are pretty much equal, but the A4L still holds an important position and is experiencing slow growth in sales this year.

In terms of product life cycle, 2 years ago, the Mercedes Benz C Class extended its wheelbase, and last year, the BMW 3 Series had a facelift. As a new-generation model, this A4L offers a very competitive price and the product itself also shows the aggressiveness of Audi’s reform.

Cooperating with BAT

In addition to price, another highlight of the all-new A4L is the application of the AMAP-based in-vehicle navigation system, which can provide detailed 3D navigation in the virtual cockpit. This is also an important step that Audi has taken towards localization in terms of car-based internet.

Staff working at Audi’s R&D center in China told Auto China that the navigation system in the all-new A4L is based on AMAP data and real-time traffic information, but the path algorithm and color scheme have been redeveloped by Audi. The 3D navigation in the virtual cockpit has been developed by Audi specifically for Asian markets, especially for China and Japan. “In consideration of the large city size and complex road conditions in these two markets, 3D maps have been developed to provide clearer navigation.”

What is more, the all-new A4L can upgrade its navigation online.

Audi’s Self-Reform as Demonstrated by the New A4L

This is just the beginning. According to Audi’s Strategy 2025, it has signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding with Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT), under which they will carry out cooperation in big data, e-commerce, car internet finance, connected car, and urban intelligent traffic system.

Specifically, Audi’s cooperation with Baidu will focus on intelligent vehicle, connected car service, and big data – the all-new A4L has integrated Baidu’s CarLife. With Alibaba, the cooperation will focus on e-commerce finance, data, entertainment and marketing, and AMAP is certainly an important part of their cooperation. With Tencent, the cooperation will be based on the vehicle information system – in the future, Audi cars may have “in-vehicle WeChat” so that users can perform functions like sharing geographic locations through WeChat.

“It is just an MOU for the time being, but it indicates that Audi is changing from being conservative to being open in its cooperation with local internet companies,” the insider told Auto China. “It has realized that it cannot develop a connected car system without the help of Chinese partners, so it has decided to be even bolder – cooperating with three of them and utilizing their strengths. This was something Audi had to do and it really worked hard on this.”

Prior to this, both BMW and Mercedes Benz already had some cooperation with Tencent in QQ and WeChat. Now Audi will work with three internet giants, showing its determination to make a change.

And such a change is also what Audi needs in its own strategic development.

Audi’s Self-Reform as Demonstrated by the New A4L

In Audi’s Strategy 2025, three milestones are proposed – ‘digitalization’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘urbanization’. For digitalization, Audi aims to become a highly digitalized car maker and be the first to realize the batch networking feature in vehicles in 2020 to turn Audi cars into “mobile devices”. For sustainability, Audi’s plan for 2025 is that one of every four Audi models will be a BEV. For urbanization, Audi has set up a business sector called “Audi Urban Solutions”, which focuses on R&D of highly intelligent auto parking and auto driving technologies to reduce traffic accidents and improve transport efficiency. This August, Audi launched a luxury-car sharing service program called “Audi at home” in Hong Kong and plans to pilot it in both North America and Europe in 2020.


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