As consumers increasingly become more environmentally conscious, they are demanding products that reduce their environmental footprints and address the impacts of climate change. It’s an opportunity for automotive companies to leverage technology and innovation to bring meaningful change to their industry.
Audi has set a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which is in line with the Paris Agreement. Short-term goals include achieving carbon-neutral production at all Audi sites by 2025. Long-term targets focus on phasing out internal combustion engines by 2033 and having a 100-per-cent electric vehicle lineup.
Gautam Bakshi, founder and CEO of 15Rock and a global leader in climate-risk management and advisory services, gathered with other innovators in Victoria in October to learn first-hand about the work Audi is putting into sustainability. He was recently recognized as one of Canada’s 50 Changemakers by The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine.
“Climate change presents a tremendous opportunity,” he says. “In 20 to 30 years e-vehicles will be the standard. That’s why I’m encouraged about the direction Audi is taking and the progress they have made in taking the lead to decarbonize fossil fuels. The bottom line is that their e-vehicles are better for consumers, their shareholders, the community and the planet.”
In Victoria, Bakshi climbed into the driver’s seat to experience Audi innovations in two of its flagship models – the RS e-tron GT and the Q8 Sportback e-tron – on a rainy track at the Vancouver Island Motor Circuit. All e-tron models feature e-quattro, Audi’s all-wheel drive system, designed to instantly offer additional grip.
The Q8 Sportback e-tron represents an evolution for Audi e-vehicles as the first to be manufactured entirely with net carbon-neutral production. It also boasts the company’s fastest charging speeds, from 10-per-cent to 80-per-cent capacity in 31 minutes, and it can travel 476 kilometres on a single charge. Roomy and luxurious, the SUV is an optimal everyday choice for sustainable and dynamic driving.
Sophisticated and sleek, the RS e-tron GT, with 637 horsepower, was designed to be a “driver’s car,” according to Martin Roy, three-time winner of the Formula 1600 series, who was a driving coach on the track. “Thanks to one central battery there is no sharing of power, and combined with the car’s low centre of gravity and sleek design, it has incredible performance,” he says.
Bakshi was impressed by the acceleration, speed and high performance of the vehicles, but says he is most excited by the influence the car could have as a larger initiative on a global platform. “Audi is a leader and the dominant player in the e-vehicle space and I see them having a dramatic impact as other car manufacturers follow their lead,” he explains. “They have become a role model in the automotive industry, and with the Audi e-tron vehicles, there is no compromise with performance. This combination of innovation and technology is a solution to impact climate change and net-zero carbon emissions.”
As part of his West Coast itinerary, Bakshi had the opportunity to hike with Ross Reid, a filmmaker, traveller, entrepreneur and founder of Nerdy About Nature, a passion project that creates informative podcasts about the environment. Reid says he believes access to the outdoors is key to sparking a connection with nature that will, in turn, start critical conversations on environmental issues and encourage positive changes for future generations.
While one spends time in urban environments and the other explores coastal rain forests, the two men speak the same language. “We are dependent on nature, it’s our food, our materials, our life and the damage we are causing is a heartbreak,” Bakshi says. “Companies like Audi are leading the way and showing us how to impact climate change and make a difference through innovation and technology.”
Bakshi is no stranger to risk. His Toronto-based company has created a powerful proprietary AI platform that combines complex data to generate a report on the financial consequences of climate risk.
“It’s not easy to take a new direction,” he says. “It’s exciting that Audi has not only responded to consumer demands for decarbonization but seized the opportunity to become an innovative leader and role model in sustainability.”
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Audi. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.