Synergies and Alliances
Leveraging synergies increases efficiency
When developing vehicles, we cooperate closely with our brands to leverage synergies. The research and development strategy elaborated in our development alliance aims, for example, to keep the Group competitive in the long term by deploying resources more efficiently in the research and development of mobility-related technologies and concepts. The brands work together on key technologies in our development alliance and form Group-wide expertise networks addressing potential topics of the future. Moreover, the individual brands are making increasing use of the modular toolkits making synergies possible both between the various models of a product line and across product lines. The brands benefit from an intensive exchange of best practices, for example in the field of virtual development. A further aim is to reduce IT costs by developing IT tools jointly.
In 2016, MAN and Scania formulated clear principles for their joint development work and signed a corresponding memorandum of understanding. Going forward, teams of engineers from both brands will work together to develop core drivetrain components. This will result in shared platforms for engines, gearboxes, axles and exhaust gas aftertreatment systems, which can then be modified for each specific brand.
Pooling strengths with strategic alliances
One goal of our research and development strategy is to continue building and consolidating a partnership culture, and we have designed corresponding initiatives to achieve this goal. In order to attain the goal expressed in our future program TOGETHER – Strategy 2025, namely of transforming our core automotive business and establishing a new mobility solutions business, it is essential that we intensify our traditionally excellent innovative strength and place it on an even broader footing. That is why we will rely to a greater extent than previously on partnerships, acquisitions and venture capital investments. Investment selection will be managed centrally so as to generate maximum value for the Group and its brands.
We are collaborating with experienced battery manufacturers in the research and further development of high-voltage battery systems for electric and plug-in hybrid drives. We not only continued, but also intensified, these cooperative projects in the reporting period. Our research community with Varta Microbattery GmbH made further progress with traction batteries in 2016.
Audi is developing the battery for an all-electric SUV on the basis of powerful cell modules from South Korean suppliers LG Chem and Samsung SDI. The partners wish to invest in cell technology in Europe and will supply Audi from their European plants.
We are also carrying out research into economical lightweight construction technologies for series production as part of the public-private partnership with Open Hybrid LabFactory in collaboration with the Lower Saxony Research Center for Vehicle Technology at the Technical University of Braunschweig, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and various other industry partners. LeichtbauCampus Open Hybrid LabFactory was inaugurated in September 2016 and research activities were commenced.
In the reporting period, AUDI AG, the BMW Group and Daimler AG continued their joint work on the HERE maps and positioning services business acquired from the Nokia Corporation in 2015. In combination with real-time vehicle data, HERE’s high-precision digital maps create the basis for the next generation of mobility and positioning services, which in turn underpin the new driver assistance systems – right through to autonomous driving.
Audi is also pressing ahead with crucial key issues in the field of digitalization and is involved, for example, in six projects related to structural measures and communication technologies for the Digital Motorway Test Bed, a joint initiative of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure with the state of Bavaria, the automotive and supplier industry, and the IT sector. Transmitters and sensors installed along several stretches of the A9 motorway connect vehicles with their surroundings as well as with each other.