QUESTION & ANSWER

Audi production chief: Cooperation with Porsche will grow

Frank Dreves: Audi-Porsche collaboration in electronics architecture is possible, but both sides must benefit.
This year Audi will launch a hybrid version of the Q7 premium SUV, developed in cooperation with Porsche. The cooperation also yielded a hybrid version of the Cayenne SUV, a platform sibling of the Q7, for Porsche.

Audi production chief Frank Dreves says he can foresee the company doing even more with Porsche, the principal shareholder in Volkswagen, Audi's parent. Beyond drivetrain ventures, he said, electronics could be a fruitful area of cooperation for the two companies.

Dreves spoke recently with Automobilwoche reporter Pia Krix at Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany.

Audi is working with Porsche to develop a hybrid version of the Q7. The hybrid is coming to market late this year.

Porsche now sits on the Audi supervisory board. What do you expect from Volkswagen Group's new major shareholder?

We already are working together successfully on hybrids. The first product is coming to market on the Audi Q7 in late 2008. Further collaboration could be conceivable in the area of electronics architecture, but the benefit has to be there for both sides.

Audi wants to be the most successful premium automaker in the world by 2015. What contribution does production have to make to reach this goal?

We will expand our array of products from 26 models today to 40 models in 2015. We are managing this by pressing ahead with modularization and standardization. We are developing our products in a way that they can later be built efficiently, with the highest possible quality, which the customer expects. That's why it is especially important for me to be present during the very early phase of product development, during the technological development. At that point, we start out with the goal of achieving the best possible productivity.

Where at Audi do you still see potential for the optimization of processes?

My vision is the ideal of a synchronous company oriented toward the creation of value. That means that we systematically carry out the basic principles of cycle, flow and perfection, not just in production but in the entire company, so we achieve short cycle times, low stocks and high productivity. Our continuous improvement process helps us keep challenging the current situation, to optimize it and to assure its sustainability through standardization. For me, in everything, the human being is always at the center. 

You can reach Pia Krix at pkrix@craincom.de

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