Audi Singapore’s Managing Director talks about the shift in car sales trends here

Lionel Kong
Audi Singapore MD Markus Schuster

Markus Schuster reveals how Audi Singapore plans to move forwards into the age of electric cars 


The return of the Singapore Motorshow in 2023 has seen the automotive retail business here gather impetus again, despite the announcement of further COE quota reductions for 2023. CarBuyer Singapore scored a quick one-on-one interview with one of the main movers in the business of retailing cars here in the form of Audi Singapore’s managing director Markus Schuster during the motorshow’s first day. He gave us some insights on how the German carmaker Audi is planning to navigate the fast-changing waters of car sales in Singapore.

“At Audi, we already have a very clear target to move the brand completely into the EV sector within this decade,” says Schuster, who has been in this role since July 2019.

The wheels are already in motion as we have since seen the last of the Audi TT in 2019 and the petrol-powered V10 Audi R8, now on its last iteration as we roll into 2023. In its place has come the Audi RS E-Tron GT, along with a collection other impressive EVs like the Audi E-Tron S Sportback  and the upcoming Audi Q8 E-Tron.

Audi Q8 e-tron
The upcoming all-electric Audi Q8 E-tron has more than 600km of range between charges

“2025 will be the final year of Audi releasing new internal combustion engined models. By the year after, it’s going to be a largely EV brand,” adds Schuster.

Don’t ditch your petrol powered Audi just yet, because the carmaker has already put plans in place to continuously update the tech in its present lineup for the foreseeable future. Which means if you hang on to your ICE Audi long enough, it might very well become a classic in the coming age of EVs

“The brand direction is to take it from the top, with the pricier, more tech-heavy models setting the stage and then launching more practical everyday models. This product strategy works well with many major markets including Singapore, but I have to say that the EV scene here is very dynamic for all sorts of reasons. Although COE prices are high, there is still a steady demand for new cars, especially electric cars. We are carefully stepping out of Covid-19 shutdowns, and on the sales floor we are seeing a higher demand for personal transport than ever before,” Schuster explains.

With the early adoption rebates for electric vehicles set to end at the beginning of 2024, the prices of EVs in Singapore could make a jump upwards at the same time. However Markus Schuster reveals that Audi’s experience from the sales floor is that its customers are more concerned about the state of the local charging infrastructure and the overall ease of use with electric vehicles right now. 

More interestingly, Audi believes that the ‘tipping point’ where the country starts selling more electric cars than fossil-fueled ones is not far away and could be as early as 2025, even with the removal of the EEAI incentives and rebates.

Audi SIngapore MD Markus Schuster
Markus Schuster with artist Andy Yang at the Singapore Motorshow 2023

Yet, how will carmakers like Audi convince car buyers to go electric?

Schuster elaborates, “At Audi we aim to offer the best value for the product, not only on price, but also substance. We have the technological expertise to continue developing better cars, quickly. For example, the upcoming Audi Q8 E-tron will have a driving range of more than 600km and very fast charging capability. This out-ranges many ICE vehicles, and the fast charging convenience makes it arguably more convenient to operate compared to a petrol-power car of the same type. These are the things that tip buyers towards EVs. 

Right now the luxury car sales segment in Singapore is very competitive, but for us at Audi it is important to keep our eyes on the goal. That is to have a profitable operation, and happy customers. We have built our whole business around happy customers. It’s not about clawing at market share, at any cost, and selling that one extra car more. Of course if we sell more we are happy, but we have to know what the real goal is and work towards that.”

With the Audi brand ranging from the highly efficient Audi A3 1.0 to the EV flag-bearing E-Tron GT, Schuster states that the brand does have a car for everyone from upwardly mobile executives to families and the very wealthy. As such there is no one specific Audi driver profile. That has a new set of challenges, as the brand’s myAudiWorld customer program needs to fan out across a very wide range of activities to have something to suit all of its customers.

For all the grief and economic chaos that Covid-19 caused, Schuster sees some good come out of it. 

He explains, “It forced the auto sales industry to get a lot more creative with the push for digital sales portals and the like. There’s another clear shift accelerated by the pandemic, where in the past manufacturers simply produced good products and sold them by convincing customers that the item was worth buying. Now, you have to listen more to the customer and meet those customer demands. Audi aims to align sales and retail concepts with the customers’ expectation, while still retaining the core concept of building cars that elicit an emotional response from the driver. That part will never change.”


Audi electric cars Markus Schuster Q8 e-tron singapore electric cars

About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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