With new electric vehicle (EV) adoption incentives announced in this year’s Budget, we hear how Audi will be setting the pace of Singapore’s electric revolution.
Q: You became Managing Director of Audi Singapore in July last year – it must be an exciting time to take the helm.
MS: Without any question as 2020 is the start of a new era for Audi. Our goal is to be the most progressive premium brand with the best customer experience. In the next five years, Audi will introduce more than 30 electrified models across all segments globally. This year, in Singapore, we will be introducing some really important models. We will have the second all-electric model, the Audi e-tron Sportback, the first-ever Audi Q3 Sportback and a host of Audi RS models, including the RS 6 Avant. So we will continue to offer the most relevant and attractive models to our customers.
Q: It’s been a busy few months for you since arriving in Singapore from Germany. As well as embracing the demands of your role and overseeing exciting new Audi launches, have you had time to get to know your new home city?
MS: Yes and I’ve had great fun doing it – I try to get out and about whenever I can. Exploring, meeting and talking to lots of people – these are all good ways to better understand our customers and see what makes Singapore tick. As a brand, we put the customer in the middle of everything we do – we listen to them and understand what they like.
Q: What about discovering some of Singapore’s attractions?
MS: I like the outdoors and seeking out different places at weekends. I did a boat trip to Lazarus Island and found a beautiful beach there with the softest white sand. Quite amazing! I also took my bike on a bumboat to Pulau Ubin – I’m glad I swapped my usual road tyres for chunkier off-road treads to ride the island’s rugged trails.
One thing I really love is how tropical nature is integrated into the urban surroundings – walking along the Southern Ridges is a great example, as within a few metres of busy roads and malls you’re suddenly away from it all among truly wild greenery. Singapore’s food scene is another favourite pastime. I like discovering local dishes such as porridge in Tiong Bahru, for example, and I’m lucky to have plenty of options for dinner at Lau Pa Sat, close to where I stay downtown.
Q: You’re driving an Audi e-tron – in fact, the very vehicle you unveiled at the Singapore Motorshow in January to mark the all-electric model’s arrival in market. What’s it like?
MS: Driving the e-tron is a unique experience. For me, getting into this car is like putting on noise-cancelling headphones – it’s surreal how quiet it is. It has an electric motor on each axle – so it’s a quattro, of course. The batteries are packed between the axles, so the centre of gravity is lower than the SUV form suggests. This is important to achieve the sporty handling. The performance is incredible: in terms of power, the e-tron has more than 400hp and you get instantaneous performance with no lag in acceleration when you press the pedal. In the real world, this car will out run many so-called traditional sports cars.
Q: And as someone who has been working with the brand for over 17 years, does it still have an “Audi” feel to you?
MS: Absolutely. What I’m most struck by is how this car makes zero compromises – for me, it feels 100 per cent Audi and delivers all the values of the brand, electrified. In some ways, the Audi e-tron is like a “super conventional” Audi – it performs like an RS sports car yet has the functionalities of a Q SUV; except that it makes no tailpipe emissions.
Q: Talking of emissions, sustainability goes beyond simply swapping out petrol engines for electric, doesn’t it?
MS: Yes, of course! Audi takes its responsibilities very seriously in terms of sustainability. The Audi e-tron is manufactured at our plant in Brussels, Belgium, which is actually the first in the world to be certified as “carbon neutral”. This is part of our strategy to conduct our business in a sustainable manner – to evaluate all points in the value chain to minimise our impact on the environment. We will continue to look for ways to improve, and the Audi e-tron is proof of this commitment.
Q: In Singapore, some motorists have range-anxiety about electric cars – we don’t see too many charging points around the island yet. What’s your response?
MS: “Range anxiety” has been brandished a lot from various automotive brands, and I understand how this might be relevant in places where there are big distances to cover. Now, I come back to my point about understanding our customers; our customers want zero compromises. That’s what we are achieving with offering the Audi e-tron in Singapore. In the context here, the e-tron has more than sufficient range to be used for an entire week without needing a recharge. For me personally, I do the charging at the office. And even so, I really only plug in the car when I come in on Friday. By the time I leave the office for the weekend, I have more than enough range to enjoy throughout the weekend and the coming work week.
Q: You also mentioned Audi’s charging on demand concept – how does that work?
MS: For owners of the Audi e-tron, the Audi charging on demand concept really enhances your mobility options. When an Audi e-tron needs a charge, we will collect it, charge up its battery and return it at the owner’s convenience.
Q: When do you think we will all be in electric Audis?
MS: We believe that it has a lot to do with customer choice and needs. Customers have plenty of options and it’s not just choosing among cars – the race is on for “mobility”. Electrifying our range is a big part of Audi’s answer to the need for mobility.
We will continue to develop and take the existing combustion technology to greater heights. Already, our latest V6 engines feature mild hybrid technology, making them more efficient while continuing to deliver the performance that comes with the Audi brand.
In the realm of mobility, we have successfully introduced the Audi on demand concept, which gives users tremendous flexibility to access the latest Audi models. In Singapore, you can choose to use it for as little as four hours or up to 28 days. A concierge brings the car to the user. It’s transforming the idea of “owning the car” to “owning the experience”.
And underpinning all our concepts and all our products, whether it’s a fully electric SUV like the e-tron or the new RS 6 Avant with its twin-turbo V8 engine, it’s about the experience – an experience that our customers will enjoy.
The all-new Audi e-tron will be available for test drives in Singapore soon. Register your interest below.