Stadler says most of the urban infrastructure needed by 2050 still has to be built (Photo: Audi)

City managers have to urgently address themselves to building the infrastructure needed to create a smarter urban mobility, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said this week.

"My key message to politicians is: Now is the time to occupy oneself with the technologies of tomorrow," Stadler said in a speech at an economic conference organized by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU political party.

Stadler noted that 75 pc of the urban infrastructure needed by 2015 has not yet been built. "This is a great opportunity. Every infrastructure will have its own digital operating system."

The Audi CEO said the auto industry and municipal governments need to work closely together to make sure all forms of public and private transportation - including cars - are connected to other "intelligent objects," which include traffic signs, stop lights, parking stations and charging stations. “Economics and politics must together shape the digital revolution,” Stadler said.

Such integrated networking is also crucial to the successful implementation of automated driving, he said.

The Audi CEO said he welcomed new market players such as Google, Apple, Uber or Baidu, which have all expressed an interest in playing a bigger role in the auto industry. "We see that the car is incredibly attractive for the IT sector," he said.

That interest is understandable, Stadler said, given the growing importance of IT in the car. "With 5,000 computer chips on board, an Audi is the biggest mobile device nowadays," he noted. And by 2020, half of every car's value added will be digital, he added.

The Audi boss also said that, once the driver can take his hands off the steering wheel, he can engage in pursuits other than driving. "The car becomes a high-revenue point-of-sale."

And a final reason for the IT industry's interest, he said, lies in the "incredible amount of data" generated by a connected car.

-By Arjen Bongard