One man is in charge of all of the engines and transmissions in all of the cars made by all of the divisions of the vast Volkswagen Group. His name is Wolfgang Hatz, he drives a yellow-and-black Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, and we had a brief chat with him at the 2009 New York Auto Show.
On the seven-speed S-tronic transmission, which we’ll first see in the Audi S4 this fall: “We developed this transmission 100% in-house at Audi. I have 150 people in R&D who work solely on transmissions.”
On the Volkswagen Group’s dominance in dual-clutch transmissions:
“We introduced the double-clutch transmission in 2003 in the Audi TT. Since then, we have produced more than one million dual-clutches; we’ll do probably 350,000 to 400,000 of them in this year alone. We are, by far, the number-one producer of double-clutch transmissions; I’d say that 99% of them on the road are in VW Group products. We believe strongly that this is the right transmission combination for [many of our products].”
On the next-generation Audi RS4: “We will continue with a normally aspirated model [despite the proliferation of the supercharged 3.0T V-6 in other Audi performance vehicles]. Most likely, though, we will do an RS5 coupe [before we do a new RS4 sedan]. You will have to wait a little bit; it won’t happen this year. [He alludes to it debuting in 2010.] We have pushed the sportiness of the car a lot. It will get both the 7-speed Stronic double-clutch and a manual.”
On the chances that the new Audi TTRS’s turbocharged five-cylinder engine will migrate to other Volkswagen Group products: “This is a clear spike for Audi. There are no plans to put this engine in a VW car. We need some exclusivity for the TTRS, and it’s important for the Audi brand’s development. The five-cylinder turbo is part of the Audi tradition.”
On whether we will get the Audi TTRS in the United States: “It’s possible, but still not 100% decided. I’m getting a TTRS roadster for myself, though, in two weeks! [wicked grin]”
On the chances that the Audi R8 diesel will make it to production, if only in Europe: “I tried to put together a business case for this car, as it’s something I would have liked to have, but for the moment we have stopped the program. A diesel super sports car would be, I think, quite a USP [unique selling proposition], but the demand would be very limited, even in Europe [where awareness of Audi’s diesel racing successes is presumably higher than in the States].”
On how he made sure that the new Audi R8 V-10 is distinguished from the V-10 in the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4: “My group was in charge, ultimately, of both cars, of course. We used a different setting for the intake and exhaust in the Audi. The R8 is not [nearly as] aggressive in noise as the Gallardo. We have [arrived at] a good differentiation. [The Gallardo customer] is another kind of customer.
On his own, personal, last-generation Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder (with the 5.0-liter V-10): “I cannot swap out the engine [for the new, 552-hp, direct-injection, 5.2-liter V-10]. But that’s just fine [he laughs]. My car is yellow, with the high-gloss black rims from the new Spyder. My brake calipers are yellow, and all of the air intakes are high-gloss black. It is unlike any other Gallardo Spyder!”