A firm eye on the electric and digital future

Thanks to his many years of experience, Jürgen Rittersberger knows what challenges Audi faces, but also what opportunities are available to the company. In our interview, he talks about what, in his opinion, is important for Audi’s future.

07/09/2021 Interview: Jan-Eric Hartmann – Photo: AUDI AG
Reading Time: 3 min

Key Facts

  • Audi benefits from synergies and, as a pioneer in the use of new technologies, is also a driving force in the Group
  • The CFO is preparing Audi for the future with seven strategic areas
  • Increasing focus is also being placed on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues

Jürgen Rittersberger

Jürgen Rittersberger has been a member of AUDI AG’s Board of Management, responsible for Finance and Legal Affairs, since 1 April 2021.

Mr. Rittersberger, perhaps we should start with an introduction: Who is the man behind the title of Audi CFO?

Jürgen Rittersberger: Probably not what you would normally expect, at least in terms of my academic background: As someone with a degree in Business Informatics, I guess I’m something of an exception in this position. But it was precisely this combination of two subject areas that helped me adopt an interdisciplinary business perspective early in my career. Since I’ve always worked in areas related to finance and corporate management, I’ve always benefited from this kind of perspective.

I started my career at a construction company before joining Porsche AG in 2002. There I held positions in the Strategic Projects and Investment Management units, and eventually headed up Corporate Development. In 2018, I moved to Wolfsburg to take over in charge of Group Strategy and the Office of the Corporate Secretary at Volkswagen. Now I’ve been CFO at Audi in Ingolstadt for the past 100 days — one of the most exciting brands in the Group in my view.

Originally, I come from the northern part of Baden-Württemberg. I like to spend my free time with my family, but I also passionately enjoy going out on my motorcycle — a Ducati, of course.


You already know the Volkswagen Group from various perspectives: How does Audi fit into the big picture?

As a premium brand within the Volkswagen Group, Audi is a pioneer in terms of using newly developed technologies. That means we play a major role in driving innovation within the Group, especially with regard to topics of future significance like electric mobility and digitalization.


In the area of electric mobility, the success of the Audi e-tron as well as other BEV models such as the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Audi e-tron GT speaks for itself. And believe me, we have quite a few more attractive electric models in the pipeline. After all, it’s our goal not to launch any more new combustion-engine models on the market from 2026.


But above all, Audi is also the only brand in the premium segment that can benefit from extensive Group synergies. For instance, we’re currently taking our next step with the Premium Platform Electric (PPE), which we’re developing together with Porsche. The PPE is designed exclusively for battery-electric drive and enables us to offer a wide variety of electric models. The first series-production Audi models based on the PPE will be unveiled in the second half of 2022. We plan to manufacture them at Audi in Ingolstadt and later in China as well.


We also benefit from Group synergies when it comes to digitalization. One example of this is the E3 2.0 end-to-end electronics architecture from CARIAD. Within the Volkswagen Group, this company has cross-brand responsibility for basic developments in vehicle connectivity and software. The brands then use this basis to develop additional functions that reflect their respective customer requirements and brand positioning. Audi is thus able to benefit from synergies without compromising on the typical Audi product experience. As the first user, we are also involved in the development process at a very early stage, with both sides benefiting from each other’s expertise. That means our brand has a special responsibility — for the transformation of the Group, but also for the transformation of the entire automotive industry. Indeed, I’m convinced that this transformation can only succeed from the top down, starting in the premium segment.


In addition, Audi’s financial performance makes a major contribution to the Group’s operating profit — with a profit share of around 30 percent in the first quarter of 2021. That’s something I’m particularly pleased about, of course. Audi also steers the Volkswagen Group’s premium brand group with its successful Ducati, Lamborghini and Bentley brands. All of this shows that we’re an important part of the big picture.

Audi Q4 e-tron: Consumption, combined*: petrol 18.3–15.2 l/100km | power 18.2–15.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.3–17.0 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: power 0 g/km

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption, combined*: 19.6–18.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.8–19.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi Q4 e-tron: Consumption, combined*: petrol 18.3–15.2 l/100km | power 18.2–15.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.3–17.0 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: power 0 g/km

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption, combined*: 19.6–18.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.8–19.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

As a premium brand within the Volkswagen Group, Audi is an important driver of topics of future significance such as electric mobility and digitalization.

Jürgen Rittersberger

In your view, what’s important in the short term, i.e. in 2021 and 2022?

The past few months have been marked by challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic and bottlenecks in semiconductor supply. But our first-quarter result proves that we’re on the right track and have remained strong even during the crisis. To make sure it stays that way, we are focusing on two points in particular: profit-oriented volume management and ensuring operational performance.


With regard to the former, we’re continuously optimizing our model mix in the markets, with an emphasis on margins. Making far-sighted plans for our plant utilization and prioritizing the supply of parts are important levers in this respect. At the same time, we’re keeping a close eye on the inventory situation, especially in times of supply bottlenecks. We have been able to master the challenges very well so far, thanks to the hard work and cooperation of everyone at Audi. For that, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our employees.


But aside from profit-oriented sales planning, we also need to keep our company competitive. That’s why we intend to manage our working capital even more actively in the future in addition to optimizing our fixed costs and investments in property, plant and equipment. Two programs that help us safeguard our operating performance are the Audi Transformation Plan (ATP) and Audi.Zukunft.


We used the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to focus on the issues that are truly important. After all, we won’t be able to afford everything, but at the same time we want to maintain a high level when it comes to our investments in topics of future significance.


What is your plan for the future and which areas are you focusing on as CFO?

The future holds a lot of potential for Audi, and it’s up to us to exploit that potential. To do this, we need to ensure that our products are profitable, especially in the area of electric mobility. We are making very good progress here, with the margin of some electric models already on a par with comparable combustion-engine vehicles. As volumes increase and technology advances, the cost base of electric vehicles will continue to improve.


I believe that highly automated driving and new business models based on this technology will also become a competitive differentiator. Here, too, CARIAD is providing the technical basis to which we’ll add brand-specific functions in order to create a distinctive Audi package for our premium customers worldwide.


We also intend to further expand our presence in China, our most important single market: With the new Audi FAW NEV Company established at the beginning of 2021, we are strengthening our positioning as a manufacturer of fully electric premium vehicles. In the future, we will produce vehicles in China that are based on the PPE. Furthermore, we’re expanding our locally produced product range together with our Chinese partners FAW and SAIC.


Another goal — and one that is also important to me personally — is to strengthen our existing commitment in the area of sustainability. Global warming affects all of us directly, but ESG (environmental, social, governance) concerns have also rapidly gained importance both on the capital market and in society as a whole. We therefore want to focus even more sharply on these issues and have also anchored this in our corporate strategy.


I look forward to tackling these challenges together with the highly motivated Audi team!

Assessment of the first quarter 2021

Operations & Integrity 05/07/2021

Assessment of the first quarter 2021

Audi reports strong momentum in Q1 2021. The new CFO, Jürgen Rittersberger, outlines the key figures.

Read more


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