The needs of potential A8 customers are changing. They desire emotional and comfortable mobility experiences that fit their individual lifestyles. Values such as time, space, and individual choices are becoming increasingly important. At the same time, a vehicle’s traditional strengths remain important – from the driving experience to high-quality materials. In the reworked Audi A8, the premium concept is defined first and foremost by an emotional and comfortable interior experience, coupled with new and established technologies.
Today’s cars must fit seamlessly into the user’s day-to-day life and be able to meet as many of their needs as possible at all times. in this context, a versatile and comfortable interior is becoming increasingly important. Manufacturers will do well to analyze the increasingly heterogeneous target groups in the luxury segment in detail. When it comes to the design of the interior, aspects such as comfort, control logic, infotainment, or the quality and sustainability of the materials used stand at the top of the list.
Comfort plus safety: relaxation seat and digital matrix LED headlights
“The interior must appeal to all of the senses and be comfortable. In addition, customers in the luxury segment expect us to offer the latest technologies, especially in the areas of safety, lighting and infotainment,” says Peter Dlab, technical project manager for the Audi A8. One example is the relaxation seat in the back of the A8 L888Audi A8 L: Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 10.8–8.2 (21.8–28.7 US mpg); Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 248–187 (399.1–300.9 g/mi) ))), which offers numerous adjustment options and a footrest on the back of the front passenger seat. Passengers can use it to have the bottoms of their feet warmed and massaged to various degrees. The Air Quality Package improves the quality of the air inside the vehicle. The combination filter in the four-zone automatic climate control system captures most of the gases and particulate matter. It also contributes to rendering allergens and microorganisms harmless. These are therefore features that invite passengers to both work and relax.
In the updated Audi A8, digital Matrix LED headlights use DMD technology – DMD stands for digital micromirror device. Each headlight has approximately 1.3 million micromirrors that break down the light of a particularly powerful LED into tiny pixels. This allows it to be controlled with a high level of precision and resolution. The lane and orientation lighting for highways emits a carpet of light that illuminates the driver’s own lane particularly brightly. Above all, this orientation light helps drivers intuitively stay in their lane at road construction sites. The enhanced A8 also comes standard with digital OLED taillights. OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode.
In conjunction with the assistance systems, the combination taillights feature proximity detection – if other road users approach the stationary A8 from behind to within two meters, all of the OLED segments are activated automatically.
Understanding the market
One example of how Audi responds to the specifics of a market is the Audi A8 L Horch, the new flagship model for China, the most important sales market for the brand with the four rings. The derivative with its prestige and status-oriented features embodies Audi’s understanding of a progressive luxury sedan with maximum customer focus. In order to gain a precise understanding of the market’s needs and to be able to meet them, Audi conducts intensive market research worldwide. In China, for example, the characteristics of the vehicle as a chauffeured limousine are foregrounded. The Audi Innovation Research (AIR) team in Beijing is responsible for market activities there. Chinese customers love technical gadgets and sophisticated design solutions even more than customers in other parts of the world. The demand for customizable digital tools and services there is extremely high. Speed is vital for finding solutions.
AIR and AIC
“We’re far more than a traditional market research department,” explains Yu Zhao, head of AIR China. “We conduct a great deal of research, partly because Chinese customers are very different from those in Europe and the US.” One of the most important tools in this context is the Audi Innovators Circle (AIC). The community of more than 800 consumers from Audi’s target demographic is digitally connected via a chat app. Feedback from these trend scouts stands out for the extreme reliability and quality of their statements. Audi receives around 300 to 400 responses to quantitative surveys within two weeks, and around 20 to 30 in-depth statements in the same period from qualitative studies. The surveys center on user experiences with the car or specific vehicle features, but also on the target demographic’s lifestyle and their perception of the Audi brand.
Customer analysis with NCBS
For this purpose, Audi uses the “New Car Buyer Survey” (NCBS), which is conducted once a year in Europe, the United States, and China, in addition to its own customer analysis. The study reveals how different brands’ customer experiences affect purchasing decisions as well as repeat purchases and recommendations. In addition, NCBS provides insights into customer satisfaction, driving habits, and other key indicators of customer loyalty.
Analyzing new car shopper data is critical to understanding product experience expectations. In addition, Audi classifies the data into demographic models that also include attitudes toward certain values. And here the A8 falls into a less traditional, more modern segment.
“The A8’s main buyer segment can be divided into two groups: people with a distinct focus on climbing the socioeconomic ladder and people we describe as the educated and progressive part of society,” says Andreas Meinheit, who is responsible for trend research at Audi. These target segments aren’t interested in opulence, but rather in features that offer tangible value and represent something special.
Being chauffeured and driving yourself
Sporty agility and driving dynamics have characterized the Audi A8 from the outset. As such, the reworked flagship equally caters to those that enjoy driving themselves and, above all with the A8 L Horch, owners that prefer to be driven by a chauffeur. “Cars in the luxury class are not traditional chauffeur-driven sedans for us across all markets. Accordingly, the vehicle is configured in a more dynamic way,” says Dlab. All-wheel steering, for example, makes the Audi A8 suitable for urban environments. With a combination of innovative suspension components, it can cover the entire range – from the velvety roll of a luxury sedan to the dynamic, tight handling of a sports car. This is where the A8’s predictive active suspension comes into play. The high-tech system, which works in conjunction with the air suspension, can unload each wheel or push it down separately via electromechanical actuators. The active suspension is capable of actively controlling the body in any driving situation, thereby greatly reducing body roll and dive during acceleration and braking.
The A8 remains the flagship
“One thing is absolutely clear: the A8 is the vehicle that drives innovation at Audi,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development. “We do everything we can to always introduce the newest technology in the A8 first and then in other series and segments.
The approach that we bring to producing this car radiates into the rest of our portfolio. That’s because customers’ needs aren’t only diverse and demanding in the luxury class. We have to set ourselves apart from the competition in the compact class as well. “