At Audi the future is an attitude, and the future is female

Kimberley Ng
2022 - Audi Night of Progress - CarBuyer Singapore - hildegard wortmann audi singapore night of progress

We had the opportunity to speak to Hildegard Wortmann, member of the board at Audi AG, to find out more about Audi’s plans for the future.


Audi has been known to showcase its latest innovations in the industry with its ‘Night of Progress’ events, with previous iterations premiering the A8 L in India and the e-tron in South Africa. Its most recent event held in Singapore saw attendance by two powerhouses of Audi; the urbansphere concept and Hildegard Wortmann, member of the board of management for sales and marketing at Audi AG.

2022 - Audi Night of Progress - CarBuyer Singapore - hildegard wortmann inside audi urbansphere concept

A 21-year stint at another luxury German automaker – that had its starts in aviation – saw Ms Wortmann involved in the relaunch of a timeless British brand known for its mini cars, and the electrification of its title brand as well. That journey also brought Ms Wortmann to Singapore, where she resided here for a brief period of time. Most notably, her favourite memory of her time here seems to be spending time in the hawker centres “in her shorts”. 

2022 - Audi Night of Progress - CarBuyer Singapore - hildegard wortmann audi singapore night of progress

Now a member on the board of management at Audi AG, she also holds the title as the first female member on the board there. And at Audi’s recent Night of Progress in Singapore attended by VIPs, owners, partners, and the media, Ms Wortmann was there to mingle with attendees. “The future is electric, and the future is female,” shared Ms Wortmann of being one of the highest-ranking executives in the automotive industry. 

At Audi the slogan also goes ‘Future is an attitude’, so CarBuyer sat down with Ms Wortmann to find out more about that attitude. Vice President of Overseas Sales André Konsbruck was present as well.

CarBuyer: As the automotive industry shifts towards electric production, what are Audi’s electrification plans?

Hildegard Wortmann (HW): I would say we’ve really been a pioneer in electric mobility; we started with the e-tron, now we have six models. This very early commitment of the brand to say “the future is electric”, is now our big advantage, because we are so well prepared for this. 

And within our corporate strategy, Vorsprung* 2030, as of 2026 we will only launch new cars that are electric. And as of 2032, we’re gonna discontinue combustion engine cars. So a very clear commitment on electric mobility. 

*Vorsprung is German for ‘progress’

Having spearheaded BMW’s i sub-brand to great success, what’s next for Audi’s electric future?

HW: We say ‘Vorsprung durch technik’ – progress through technology. But I think what describes progress has changed. Whereas in the past, it was all about the engine, some more horsepower, or a 10th of a second faster on the Nurburgring. 

Progress is now something that is more describing the attitude that you have to a brand, and using technology to contribute to society, to give back to society. Meaningful technology and not just technology for the sake of it. You need to see the values and the attitude of the brand. 

2022 - Audi Night of Progress - CarBuyer Singapore - derryn wong hildegard wortmann kimberley ng andre konsbruck audi singapore night of progress
From left to right: Derryn Wong, Hildegard Wortmann, Kimberley Ng, André Konsbruck

And for André, the luxury car market has seen an increased growth in the last few years. How does Audi aim to differentiate themselves in that field?

André Konsbruck: Above all we have Audi’s product. We have a very strong DNA in our products, and that’s why we displayed all the sphere concepts. We need to show where the product is driving to. 

On the other hand, it’s about the retail experience. Customer behaviours are changing dramatically fast. It’s about really developing this seamless customer journey where customers can decide how and when they purchase the car. 

So we’re moving from the typical dealership to more of an experience centre. Because we have to add value to this customer journey. Today you can get everything online, so the question is what would you expect when you go to see a dealer? 

HW: It’s actually human–centricity. We don’t just say customer focus or customer-centricity, we call it human-centricity, because it’s more about allyship, showing the attitude. As we said, the future is an attitude. 

Especially to your younger generation, it’s so important for us to convey the message that this is more about than just selling a car. It’s about being in this together and trying to contribute to a bigger cause and trying to live progress. Not just progress for the sake of technology, but trying to push things forward.

Then where do you see Audi in the next five and 10 years?

HW: For us it’s absolutely clear, the future is electric. So we will definitely continue our path, we will have an electric offering in each segment that we offer at Audi. But it’s not enough just to talk about the cars, it’s important to talk about the whole ecosystem. 

We all know that customers will only accept an electric vehicle if the whole ecosystem works. So we are building strongly on the infrastructure.

It’s the whole ecosystem – the charging infrastructure with a digital connection and a seamless integration into your day to day life. We used to be a classic OEM producing cars. Now we are in the energy, battery, software, and financing business.

2022 - Audi Night of Progress - CarBuyer Singapore - audi urbansphere
The urbansphere’s lounge-like cabin with swivelling seats and screens galore

And next up is your entry in Formula One. With that 2026 entry can we expect any spillover from developments there to your road cars?

HW: It’s a good example of us trying to live progress. As you know, we only start in 2026, and the reason is Formula One as it used to be or as it is right now would not be right, it needs to change and become more sustainable. 

So the FIA has changed the regulations, it has made some progress. And they realise that sustainability today is something that is a must-have. It’s not something nice, something fancy for marketing. 

But back to your question. Yes, of course. The motorsports world has always been at the core of the Audi brand, great successes at Le Mans, etc. So that will continue.

2022 - Audi Night of Progress - CarBuyer Singapore - audi urbansphere

Could you give me an example of this human-centricity that you were talking about?

HW: We were talking about new retail formats for example, we have our House of Progress like we started in Japan. And House of Progress is something where you really get a holistic approach to the brand and you can experience the brand.

A Night of Progress like tonight to connect people who want to contribute to the same thing – to sustainability or with innovative startups that want to contribute to a better world. We want to drive progress and put something in front. We see ourselves very much in the role of providing these platforms and being part of this organisation. 

And a personal question, what Audi are you driving?

HW: I have an e-tron GT at the moment, and I sometimes had the pleasure as well of having an RS model and it puts an even bigger smile on my face. But I must say that the e-tron GT for me, it exposes everything that Audi stands for – strong exterior design, very attractive, and strong lights. As you can tell I’m totally in love with it. 

And just now you mentioned that Audi is kind of becoming not just an OEM carmaker but going into software and batteries – which part of this future plan excites you?

HW: It actually sounds silly, but it’s the combination of everything we have to have to suddenly learn and progress to. And technology has always been at the heart of everything. I’m a huge technology fan, and I’m very excited about what solutions technology can bring to all of this. 

The manner our experts use technology to really progress into a more sustainable world is great. If you talk about decarbonisation – which I hope we all agree that decarbonisation must be one of our key targets to make a better world here – and then to see the technology that could contribute to this is exciting.


Audi hildegard wortmann night of progress

About the Author

Kimberley Ng

The youngest and shortest of the CarBuyer Singapore bunch, Kimberley is the proud owner of a Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1...diecast from Shuco. She runs the CarBuyer Singapore Tik Tok @carbuyersingapore. For unrelated purposes, her favourite song is Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. Special talents include impressions of famous rapper Lil' Jon. [email protected]/@kimmyk7

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