Interview with Markus Schuster, Managing Director of Audi Singapore on the House of Progress

Interview with Markus Schuster, Managing Director of Audi Singapore on the House of Progress

James Wong
James Wong
30 Mar 2023
From our point of view, there's no better place for the House of Progress.

The Audi House of Progress (HoP) will open its doors to the public this weekend. HoP embodies Audi’s core values of digitalisation, design, performance, and sustainability, and is essentially an interactive and relaxing area to check out Audi’s latest models, including the grandsphere concept which makes its pit stop in Singapore.

We spent some time with Markus Schuster, Managing Director of Audi Singapore over the HoP media preview to gather some of his thoughts about the event. Poignantly, a key achievement of his career is bringing the first generation R8 to market; we explore how he manages this contrast with the upcoming BEV models like the Q8 e-tron and Q4 e-tron that’s on display at HoP. We also touch on e-fuels and how Audi sits in the Volkswagen Group in terms of BEV development.

JW: Can you share about how the House of Progress came to Singapore? Did HQ choose Singapore or did you pitch for it?

MS: It’s a concept that's been rolled out last year and it’s been featured in the major trendsetting cities of the world, like Tokyo and Milan. We approached the Audi headquarters and said that we would really like to do it in Singapore, because it is really the ‘city of the future’ in Asia. Being the centre of Southeast Asia, we will host a lot of guests from the region as well, giving us a chance to show them how we envision the future. From our point of view, there's no better place for the House of Progress.

JW: I noticed that you also have your flagship, the R8, on display. How do you see the future of ICE and BEV, will they coexist? Or would we slowly see cars like the R8 being phased out?

MS: If you study the Singapore Green Plan, ICEs are being phased out, however there is still some time until 2030 where we will continue to have new car registrations of ICEs and BEVs. And even until 2040, ICE and BEVs will be co-existing. For us at Audi, we have a very clear roadmap on electrification. The target is to be a completely electrified company; all new product launches from 2026 onwards are going to be purely BEVs.

We will still keep on improving the existing ICE model range to keep up with regulations, including any technological advances that we can make. We believe that the ICE models that we offer at the moment are really the most advanced we've ever had in the history of Audi. We will, until 2030, offer ICE and then make a complete switch to BEVs.

JW: EU lawmakers have recently brought up sustainable fuels as a topic. Is Audi looking into that as something that will be part of its strategy?

MS: At the moment, we are concentrating more on BEVs. However, e-fuels can be very important if you're looking at the existing ICE car parc, to basically reduce their environmental footprint. It is something that is still in a development stage. We will have to see how it will impact the car industry.

JW: I think it’s quite exciting that you have the Q4 e-tron which is, as you say, more accessible for car buyers. Do you see it forming the most of your BEV sales in the coming years in Singapore?

MS: Based on the great reception of the Q3 and Q5 in Singapore, I believe the Q4 will be a huge sales success. Since it's more affordable and more accessible, it will make up a large part of the e-tron range.

JW: Do you plan to release models that are even cheaper than the Q4 e-tron?

MS: At the moment we don't have any concrete plans on that. But I'm sure that in the future Audi will offer the whole e-tron range across all sectors.

JW: Is the Q8 e-tron a completely new model when compared to the current e-tron?

MS: It’s a complete overhaul of the e-tron, a heavy facelift if you will. Battery capacity has increased quite considerably. The aerodynamics of the exterior and some of the interior has been reworked completely. The software that is used to manage the charging is much improved. That's why you have a big increase in range to over 500 km.

JW: Where does Audi sit in the Volkswagen Group in terms of BEVs? At the start, Porsche and Audi were sort of leading the conversation in terms of BEVs. Has it changed now or is it still the same?

MS: We believe that premium brands are always on the forefront of technological development. You can see this also in Singapore where the BEV share in the premium segment is higher than other models. I reckon this is because premium customers are more focused on technological development and are more willing to pay for the latest technology. We see ourselves as the forerunner, who is really pushing the boundaries of electric mobility.

Photos by Audi Singapore

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