Audi Keynote International CES, Las Vegas

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to be back to the International CES, the undisputed stage of innovation.

At Audi, we are proud of our efforts to leverage technology to make our vehicles safer, more efficient, and more exciting than ever before.

  • In 2011, we introduced our modular infotainment concept here at CES.
  • In 2012, we showcased connectivity in the interior of the car and explained how we connect vehicles with their environment.
  • In 2013, we introduced our brand-new Matrix LED lighting technology and created a lot of excitement with our piloted driving and parking demo.

And today, we will share about connectivity, piloted driving and other rapidly evolving innovations. Most of all, we are showing the full spectrum of what it means to be a leader in innovation. By developing technologies that show our industry and government stakeholders around the world how to get from point A to point B more efficiently – and, of course, more safely.

Ladies and gentlemen, the car Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, and I arrived in is a Horch 850 from the early 1930s. At the time, Horch was a synonym for the most exclusive and technically most advanced automobiles – in Germany and beyond. A true premium brand of its era, one of the predecessor companies of Audi – and its spirit carries on. Arriving in this vehicle, you get to enjoy the driving experience that many owners of a Horch enjoyed about eighty years ago – a piloted driving experience.

And today, we are redefining what “piloted driving” means for a new era.

But before we do that, let me take a step back to the history of the automobile.

As I see it, that history falls into four eras.

In the first era, men created a machine and sought to push its limits. Drivers strapped into the seats of their Silver Arrows, adjusted helmet and goggles, and drove like mad.

The second era was about taming the machine. Making it reliable. Making it work for people. Turning it from a novelty to an everyday life tool.

The third era is really the era from the time of this Horch until today – constant gains in safety, efficiency, technology, and luxury. Most cars, under the hood, were not too different from this Horch here.

Today, we see a period of major changes. I believe the fourth era is one in which we are moving from refining the automobile, to redefining mobility.

Our customers around the world tell us what they expect from an Audi – and they talk about wanting:

  • Mobility offerings that make sense in urban surroundings and match their individual needs.
  • Offerings that include navigating parking, traffic congestion and any other areas where driving pleasure is limited.
  • And customers want offerings that allow them to be efficient while driving, commuting, and traveling.

This is a real mega-trend. No matter who we ask, no matter where they live, people want to be connected. So if mobility used to be about connecting places and people, it is now about connecting the driver with the car, the car’s surroundings, the traffic infrastructure, and all of the other connected elements of their life.

We are committed to constantly refining our automobiles so that they demonstrate: best-in-class performance and efficiency, sporty and dynamic handling, safety and comfort, stunning design, premium fitting and top quality.

And we are equally committed to redefining mobility. That includes everything from how the automobile is powered – with advances in electronics, hybrid-electrics, and advanced diesel technology to closing the gap between consumer electronics and automotive electronics, closing the gap between how connected you are in your vehicle and how connected you are in your life, closing the gap between science fiction and the reality on the road. That is what we hope to highlight today.

Our motto is “Vorsprung durch Technik.” With most innovations in automotive engineering relying on electrics or electronics, it becomes evident why it is just as important for us to be at electronics shows as it is to be at auto shows.

While the worlds of electronics and automotive are getting closer, the innovation cycles of our industries are very different. If you drive a 2012 model, remember that the engineers started to think about your car back in 2005. Seven years is not a lifetime for vehicles, but it’s several lifetimes for electronics, where the speed of innovation is much faster – and the time it takes to get that innovation to market.

This sounds like a big challenge. And it is!

Although I would rather call it a big opportunity. An opportunity to redefine and synchronize the product development process – both for automotive and electronics.

And that’s why we are building on a global ecosystem of partners.

As an example, we work with Qualcomm, a leading supplier of innovative wireless solutions. They provide the hardware to bring high-speed LTE connectivity to our cars.

Thanks to this collaboration, in the summer of 2013, Audi became the first carmaker worldwide to bring fully integrated LTE services to the market.

Earlier I said that we listen carefully to what our customers tell us. One of the pieces of feedback we hear about automotive electronics is they are way too complex to handle, especially while driving. Our approach is simple and straightforward: More functions, less distraction. We accomplish this through a system we call “human machine interface”. It facilitates the dialog between driver and car – and it has undergone a revolutionary change.

At CES, we see the electronics industry’s commitment to user experience.

And we’ve been focusing on improving the user experience as well. We launched the rotary pushbutton with touchpad in the Audi A8 in 2010, later for the Audi A6. In the meantime, we rolled out this concept to the compact segment. Today, you will find this feature in our Audi A3 family.

And thanks to our joint efforts with Google – when you buckle into your Audi, your interface will feel familiar, because your Audi is now more intuitive than ever. The touchpad responds to your handwriting. And with voice activation, you can interact with your car without taking your hands off the wheel. These systems are part of the Audi S3 we see here on stage – truly a broad variety of latest electronics in a compact car.

And the virtual cockpit of the new Audi TT 3 offers a unique operating and display concept. The display is customized for each driver. It automatically presents the most relevant information, depending on whether you are parking or stuck in a traffic jam. Information is easy to locate, speech functions are optimized and system performance is outstanding. The future is almost here.

One of the things we do at Audi is that we look beyond. We are pushing the limits and thinking beyond the horizon. We were first to come to CES in 2011. Today, we are in sync with the electronics industry. And we don’t stop with adding hardware to the product. At Audi, it’s also about brainware – how we think about society.

We think about how to sync up with the future of mobility – and that requires taking a more holistic look. The future of mobility is increasingly linked to our urban future. Twenty years from now, two thirds of our planet’s population will live in cities.

What will the city of the future look like? Will noise, pollution, and traffic increase?

In terms of mobility, in 2050 will our intersections and traffic lights look like the ones we know? Or will we see smart roads with integrated electronics to guide us our way?

If we have new modes of transportation – how will they interact with each other?

Will future generations even drive? What will the mobility ecosystem look like?

These are just a few of the questions we address in the Audi Urban Future Initiative.

Since 2010, we have partnered with architects, urban planners and futurists – seeking their ideas and gaining their perspective.

And we are proud to have recently entered into a flagship partnership that will allow us to demonstrate new technologies and new thinking. As the official supplier of premium automobiles to the International Olympic Committee, Audi and the IOC have announced a pioneering strategic agreement for the new IOC headquarters currently planned for Lausanne, Switzerland.

As an exclusive mobility consultant, we will develop premium mobility solutions for the new campus and will support an international architecture competition briefing.

We think this is an ideal testing environment for technologies like Audi connect and piloted parking. We look forward to sharing our expertise to bring these exciting plans, and this major project, to fruition.

To further propel the dialog about urban mobility, Audi has also launched an international mobility award, the Audi Urban Future Award. This year, interdisciplinary teams from three continents will come up with premium mobility solutions for an existing urban context. We kicked off this year’s contest with an online speed pitch of three teams in the US. In only two weeks, we saw more than 10 million Twitter impressions. We take this as an encouraging sign that the future of urban mobility is gaining more and more importance worldwide.

It is my great pleasure to announce the winning team who will take part in the 2014 Audi Urban Future Award: Philip Parsons, urban planner and founder of Sasaki Strategies, and Federico Parolotto, mobility expert and principal of Mobility in Chain.

Their topic was to create a new online market place for mobility. Congratulations, Philip and Federico! And good luck for the project!

We have looked beyond the car, and we will continue to look beyond our time.

Already, this thinking has shaped our approach towards connected cars and evolving automobiles to become the largest social mobile devices we own.

As I said earlier today, we are bringing people together –both physically and emotionally.

Mobility is always about connectivity. That’s what you’ve seen here today – mobility, connectivity, and Audi’s commitment to not just “refine automobiles”,

but to “redefine mobility”.