July 31st is the day when Audi is going to hold its 131st Annual General Meeting when the Four Rings will officially take the lead for research and development for the entire Volkswagen Group. We’re bringing this up because the company has just revealed some interesting details about the work its technical development team has been doing over the years.
Internally referred to as the “TE,” the Technical Development department set up shop in the then-new facilities in northern Ingolstadt back in 1970. In the half a century that has passed since then, the team has grown exponentially and it now has almost 10,000 technicians and engineers working at the site. There are an additional 2,000 TE employees in Neckarsulm and members of the R&D department working in Gyor in Hungary as well as in San Jose Chapia in Mexico and in Beijing, China.
It’s safe to say we’re dealing with an impressively productive team as last year alone, Audi filed more than 1,200 patent applications. That works out to more than three patent applications every single day. In total, the company holds approximately 13,000 patent families all over the world, encompassing about 23,000 individual patents and patent applications.
Patents are so important for Audi that the company has even hired attorneys specialized in patents. In the press release issued today, the company takes a jab at other automakers that prefer to simply purchase ready-made technology whereas Audi develops most of it in-house. It goes on to say it has the most EV-related patents in Germany with 57 patent applications for plug-in hybrids and the E-Tron models in 2019, out of a total of 660 patents.
The continuous R&D efforts go to show Audi’s familiar “Vorsprung durch Technik” (translated to “lead by technology”) tagline actually means something and it’s not just marketing speak. Further proof is the recently announced Artemis project, which will allow Audi to speed up the development of EVs. It represents an effort to meet the parent company Volkswagen Group’s objective to launch 75 EVs by 2029.