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Audi of America President Asserts Sustainable Technologies, Not 'Silver Bullets,' Will Drive Automotive Progress

September 14, 2009

HERNDON, VA - Finding practical ways to reduce automotive emissions and lessen America's energy dependence isn't something that can wait for technological breakthroughs years down the road, noted Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen. Instead, car companies and government policy makers should immediately embrace promising new technologies that can quickly add up to make a real difference. In a wide-reaching speech at Audi's 100th Anniversary celebration in Sonoma, California, de Nysschen also discussed his thoughts on the future of luxury, asserting that the era of "legacy luxury" -products that convey status without regard to cost or resources consumed - is now at the end of its life cycle, with Audi representing the new era of "progressive luxury."

Addressing journalists gathered to experience the latest Audi models and technologies, de Nysschen affirmed that Audi has an abiding commitment to bring sustainable automotive technologies to the world's motorways. In particular, he noted several projects that increase the efficiency of existing internal combustion technology and could serve as effective bridges to a future that can deliver solutions to limitations found today on matters such as battery technology, energy production and well-to-wheel environmental impact. These technologies ensure that Audi will be the standard bearer of progressive luxury and the modern automotive industry.

Specifically, de Nysschen discussed the company's clean diesel TDI engines which drastically reduce the need for petroleum products, light aluminum body designs, vibration dampeners to ensure the car effectively uses all energy it develops and smaller, high-performance engines that require less fuel to perform. Together, these systems ensure that the automotive industry will maintain until the next generation technology is more viable.

"Yes, we spend a lot of time ensuring that our owners drive something better," said de Nysschen. "We and our consumers also want to drive at something better - a more sustainable future."

Intrinsically tied to these sustainable developments, de Nysschen argued, is the need for the old concept of luxury to "recede into the rearview mirror" in favor of the "progressive luxury" that Audi strives to represent. He acknowledged that people of means will reward themselves for hard work with status symbols, but that those purchases must square "with the ethos of an era that has been called the end of excess." To that end, Audi is providing products that are considerately-crafted inside and out - demonstrative of success without excess.

"This is the type of luxury that announces itself in aggregate. Everything just feels flawless, inside and out," de Nysschen said. "You realize (that) when you get into an Audi, it's not only the engine that moves you."

Among the key quotes from Mr. de Nysschen's speech (which is available in its entirety at

  • We are thinking of a leadership position in terms of centuries, and so we must ask (questions about the sustainability of the industry), and answer them.
  • As Audi enters our second century, we are answering these questions simultaneously - defining the future of luxury by redefining the future itself, to be more sustainable, more beautiful, and more progressive than ever before.
  • When you look at the vehicles that defined luxury for the last several decades, you see size for the sake of size. Symbols for the sake of status. Aggressiveness bordering on arrogance. A "relentless pursuit of perfection" that somehow forgot about passion. How boring. These are all remnants of an automotive landscape that is fast receding into the rearview mirror. Progressive Luxury is what we see when we look through the windshield.
  • We and our consumers also want to drive at something better - a more sustainable future.
  • In pursuing sustainability, there's no silver bullet.
  • The challenge is that Americans, by and large, haven't quite been willing to put their consumerism where their conscience is - sales of small cars have declined more than the average decline of all segments, meaning that sales are still migrating to small and medium size SUVs.
  • The truly sustainable solution is to give today's consumer a much more efficient version of what they already want - whether that's performance, space, fine finishes, or all of the above.
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