A seventeen year veteran at Audi, Markus Schuster recently took over the position of Managing Director Audi Singapore at a complex time in the German carmaker’s history as the automaker starts the electrification of its passenger vehicle range. We spoke to Markus during the Singapore Motorshow at the launch of the Audi e-tron – and in fact this interview was conducted while we were seating in the front seats of the e-tron!
Markus Schuster: Let me introduce myself. My name is Markus Schuster, and I’m the new MD of Audi Singapore been here in Singapore for the last six months.
How do you find the difference between Singapore and Germany? Do you find the COE system in Singapore to be overly complicated?
Actually once you have an understanding of how the system works it is not over complicated. I think the sheer size difference of the German and Singapore markets makes things very different but the smaller size also has some very significant advantages. If you think of the contact that we have with our customers, it’s just great to be in a smaller market because we have a one-on-one relationship with our customers and that gives us always the opportunity to talk to them directly, to get their feedback directly on the products and everything we do and to relay that back to headquarters to improve our products.
Do you think that customer relationship plays quite a big role in Audi maintaining its top position in the Singapore market?
It’s absolutely paramount to build up a very close relationship to the customer and to really engage with the customer to understand what the customer wants and needs.
Right now we’re sitting in the Audi E-tron, which is a very pivotal car for Audi because it marks the starting point of vehicle electrification for Audi, could you speak a bit about what do you think about the importance of this car and in the Singapore market?
For us, this car is more than just the car. The e-tron is only a starting point and over the next five years we will actually introduce globally about 30 electrified models and this is our approach to not just concentrate on the fully electric cars, but to extend the electrification over the whole range of our cars.
The most amazing thing about the e-tron is that even with a higher power output, you have 408 horsepower, when you get into this car it’s like putting on a pair noise-cancelling headphones. The interior has a sense of tranquillity, a feeling of being removed from all the stress and all the bustle outside, which is just amazing because there is no engine noise. You feel like you’re really really in a quiet area where you can relax more and where you can have a more enjoyable drive.
Could you hint at when the next Audi EV model will launch in Singapore?
It will be the e-tron Sportsback which we will be introducing towards the end of the year, and it will be a very exciting product. Going on from there we’re really looking forward to extending the e-tron range over the next years.
What do you think of the current state of vehicle electrification in Singapore?
I think compared to some other countries, especially some European countries, Singapore is still at a starting point, but there is a plan then things can happen very fast in Singapore and we can see that now with Singapore Power expanding their charging infrastructure very fast and so so we believe this topic of electrification and electric mobility will gain momentum very rapidly in Singapore.
With the new restrictions to PMDs, will the Audi Electric Scooter come to Singapore?
The Audi e-tron scooter will be introduced worldwide this year, and I don’t know if it makes sense to introduce it in Singapore.
Can you tell us what Audi has in store for Singapore fans in 2020?
There’s going to be some really exciting new cars. We will have the new A4 in the second half of the year and there will be the facelift of the Q5. There will be some very exciting RS models the RS6, RS7 and the RSQ8 that we’re going to be introducing the first time.