Wolfgang Dürheimer Interview Joining Audi and the Future of …

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Wolfgang Dürheimer Interview: Audi and the Future of Bentley and

In a few weeks, Bentley and Bugatti CEO Dürheimer will be leaving for where he will head s research and development and lead the VW s motorsports activities. At Audi, he deal closely with maker Ducati; a fitting as he earned his stripes at BMW s motorcycle before he became head of s research and development. Two years following a shakeup in VW Group he left for Crewe, England, to Bentley and Bugatti.

We recently sat with Dürheimer to discuss the of Bentley s powertrains. the progress of the Galibier. and his new responsibilities with and VW Group motorsports.

C/D: In new position, you will deal Ducati —and thus, for the time since leaving with motorcycles. What your most important projects in the past?

WD: Clearly the G/S I optimized the chassis of the competition of the G/S series as early as 1979. We launched the series production in 1980—and simultaneously won the European championship. The R80 G/S and the subsequent models an incredible triumph and segment

I then worked purely as a engineer for BMW motorcycles and returned to production development on the team My last project was the transversal four-cylinder engine. But my favorite was the G/S, and I still drive one I bought just before I BMW.

C/D: What will role be at Ducati?

WD: The details are yet to be out, but for me, there definitely is an of coming back to my roots. I that (Audi CEO) Stadler expects me to take a look at Ducati s technologies.

Your leadership style has described as process oriented.

WD: In there is no other way than to the process, but creativity plays an role as well. Designers and specialists are more creative by but the same applies to motorsports, and I have supported that. It depends on the project.

C/D: You be in charge of the Group s motorsports Do you believe in competition between the Group s brands?

WD: Yes, is always good. In AMLS, we had a where Audi and Porsche fiercely competing with other. It has not only helped brands, it also provided a show for the enthusiasts.

C/D: were the defining elements of tenure at Bentley?

WD: My two years very good years I don t want to miss. It was a highly time. When I came in, was in economic trouble.

But together my team, we turned the brand and created a more robust model. For the next seven Bentley will deliver good numbers, and we will be to finance all development projects we have started out of our own cash support from Wolfsburg.

C/D: It also has been that Bentley would be the s center for 12-cylinder engines.

WD: traditionally is the center of excellence for and leather in the Volkswagen Group, but we declared that we also be the center of excellence for 12-cylinder Today, these engines are in Salzgitter and in Crewe, and our goal is in the long run, they be built only in Crewe.

Are there further pillars of strategy?

WD: Certainly, it is the realization we can achieve the biggest and most growth for Bentley with an SUV We have conducted extensive studies after the Geneva, the New and the Beijing showings of our EXP 9 F concept. and unanimously support the notion customers are ready to accept a vehicle. Ninety-five percent of our own that we sampled responded in a manner.

C/D: Did this reaction extend to the styling?

WD: I that the tonality was not always But I have spent a few years in business and I well remember the of the Porsche Cayenne. That one much more.

Compared to experience, the EXP 9 F has fetched some but it was altogether extraordinarily well A Bentley is not a car for everyone, it is a car for a very group of customers. They to differentiate themselves and they don t a face like everyone

We have clinicked Bentley SUV customers, and affluent customers in and the support from our own customers was the Certainly some will our approach is unusual, but we chose it on We traveled to Geneva incognito and to make a huge splash at the VW evening. We definitely met that The news of Bentley entering the spread across the globe, the car and the were the subject of strong

Let me put it this way: If you are everybody s you are not the best at the end of the day.

C/D: But you several proposals competing

WD: Not anymore. We have progressed far and are in the findings of our clinics.

C/D: Did you the EXP 9 F as the basis for the coming vehicle?

WD: work on the show car was finished, we a regular design process. But I can you that the car, which very likely come to in 2015, will have a strong similarity with the

C/D: Will there be to size and technology?

WD: It will be a mighty car, but still modest by North standards. It will have rear legroom than all and to achieve that, we are skipping a configuration. And we will have a engine, but there will be further engine choices.

How will you develop the Mulsanne

WD: A convertible derivative has priority a coupe. Azure is a great We are also working on an armored with the Middle East and America in mind.

C/D: How life is in the traditional Mulsanne

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WD: Right now, the current will stay. But in our new markets, are asking why the range ends an eight-cylinder unit. The issue has recognized and we are working on a solution, our brand s leadership in the realm of engines in mind. I believe the V-8 can then retire.

But this is a for the next model generation.

What about hybrids and at Bentley?

WD: You will be able to buy a with a plug-in hybrid As to the diesel, the technology is victorious the world, with the exception of the market, and, partly, So it is an option for Bentley, but as a second after our gasoline models. all, China and the U.S. are our important markets.

But in continental we haven t exhausted our market and the diesel would greatly us there.

C/D: Only in the SUV, or in the sedans?

WD: Also in the sedans. The cars are running.

C/D: us a bit about your plans at Will the next Veyron be or the Galibier four-door sedan?

WD: The of the Veyron will likely be the car to market, but it is not decided yet. projects are pursued with energy. A Bugatti is like a of art: It doesn t follow a life cycle, but is finished the artist has signed it off.

What kind of car will the be?

WD: Simply the best luxury in the world, the most beautiful four-door in the world, powered by a engine with over hp, and faster than anything on the And that includes tuning which now stand at around 235 And I can assure you that we will a few innovative ideas that are a in the automotive business as a whole. I I had seen everything after 10 at the top of Porsche s RD.

I was wrong.

C/D: the Galibier come as a hybrid?

WD: It is an but it hasn t been decided We have to watch the politics. We our customers to be able to drive to the of the finest hotel in a city their Galibier, not with a

So if the inner cities are shut off to powered cars, the Galibier come as a hybrid; two powertrain are possible. But right now, the is sheer power, not a hybrid.

WD: I don t hybrids as a transitional technology. will be with us for a long As to electrics, the topic has been deflated. We are in command of the motors, we the electric management, but battery still cannot deliver. and cost are the killers.

The researchers are hard, but they have for the past 30 years. They say a is possible, and we have also that for many years. In my time at Porsche, I have not the need to do a fully electric and I am not supportive of an electric racing either.

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