Audi CEO Seeks to Catch Up in China in Test of Germany’s Grit

(Bloomberg) -- Markus Duesmann, the chief executive officer of Audi, flew to China last week to tackle a problem that’s indicative of the challenges facing Germany: how to compete with its biggest trading partner on new technology.

The head of the German luxury brand went to visit Audi’s Chinese joint venture partners — China FAW Group Co. and SAIC Motor Corp. — to discuss ways to sell more electric vehicles in the world’s largest car market. The effort is critical not just for the Volkswagen AG unit but also as a test of Germany’s ability to navigate threats to its competitiveness.

Germany’s vaunted automakers dominated the combustion-engine era, but the transition to electric vehicles puts their standing at the pinnacle of the auto industry at risk. Audi, Mercedes-Benz Group AG and BMW AG are ramping up their range of battery-powered models in a critical bid to compete with Tesla Inc. and upstarts from China, including BYD Co. and NIO Inc.

Read more: VW Shows €25,000 EV to Compete Where Tesla Has Left an Opening