May 9 – A Progressive and Premium Day

On Wednesday morning, we embarked on another two hour bus ride, this time to visit Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt, a city in northeast of Augsburg. I tried to catch some Z’s on the ride there but ended up mostly looking out of the window at the German countryside. Again.

I was very excited to see Audi. Although nobody in my family (or anyone else I know) has owned an Audi car, I am still familiar with the notoriety that accompanies the cars and their brand name.

The Audi campus was beautiful. As soon as we arrived, I could tell that the campus and factory would live up to the brand’s high reputation. The buildings were mostly clear, clean glass and surrounded a garden that looked very well kept. I saw shuttles driving around that looked nicer than any member of the Pittsburgh public bus fleet. Inside, we were able to sit in the cars in the lobby. Coming from a family that exclusively buys Hondas, I had never been inside a car with so many dashboard features an such immaculate leather seats.

The factory tour was also quite impressive. It was much more spacious than the first two. Our group was all together this time, instead of split into two groups, and we had plenty of room to walk through the factory. Like Continental, most of the machines were automated. Unfortunately, we walked through while the morning shift was on their lunch break, so many of the machines were still. But as we moved to the assembly line, many workers had returned and were working. We even watched two workers place the windshields onto the front and backs of cars.

After a tasty lunch (during which I tried Schnitzel for the first time and was nearly in love), we toured the Audi museum, starting on the top floor with the earlier models. As we made our way down, the cars became more modern and more similar to those we had been sitting in before the tour. It was amazing to see the almost linear revolution of Audi cars from the beginning of the 20th century to today.

Lastly, we enjoyed a presentation from Peter Will, who represented Audi’s innovation center, Audi Urban Solutions. The presentation also did not disappoint. I was impressed by how vividly they defined their branding and target market – Audi is the car for the “premium” and “progressive” buyer. I was also amazed by how defined and ambitious their goals were – by 2050, Audi wants to be emission free and the proliferation of their all electric E-Tron will help them reach this. From that, I knew we were in the presence of quality and innovation. I think it’s great how a company so large is taking drastic steps toward sustainability and making it a top priority. I can only hope more companies follow Audi’s innovation. Audi was my favorite tour so far, but I’m excited to see what’s still to come!

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