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“The future is now”

“The future is now”

For Audi, Lucas di Grassi competed in the all-electric Formula E racing series and has long been a champion for the electrification of mobility away from the racetrack. In this interview, he tells us about his drive for a better tomorrow for all, the mobility revolution and curiosity.

Interview: Frieder Pfeiffer - Photo: Ramon Haindl Reading time: 8 min

View through the Audi e-tron GT quattro at Lucas di Grassi.View through the Audi e-tron GT quattro at Lucas di Grassi.

Lucas di Grassi, let’s take a look at your past to find out about your passion for the future. Where did your irrepressible desire to shape tomorrow start?
I have always believed that people have a moral and social duty to constantly strive to improve things in their field. Taking me as an example, motorsport has been my passion since I was a child. And at some point, I became aware that racing can also be a platform for promoting technology; a platform for inspiring people and enhancing their experience of mobility.

When did you first put this idea into practice?
I realized that I drove much more efficiently – and more fuel-efficiently – than other members of my family did. So, I wanted to give other people tips on how they could drive more safely, as well as more cost and resource-efficiently. This was when I founded my first non-profit organisation when I was 22. It was a small project, but was infused with the same spirit as my more recent projects. I want to use my knowledge of mobility and the technology to inspire people. I want to help shape the future, to make the world a better place through technology and innovation.

I want to create awareness and inspire people.

Why is this so important to you?
My family is descended from Italian immigrants in Brazil. When my great-grandfather came to Brazil, the family was already middle class. I am very lucky that I have never had to worry financially as I grew up in a great environment. At the same time, I think that the world’s problems fundamentally come down to the fact that there is no equality of opportunity. I always felt the need to give something back. That motivates me. However, if you’re successful without making a contribution to society, that’s not sustainable. That’s not a true legacy.

Lucas di Grassi looks at the rear of the Audi e-tron GT quattro.Lucas di Grassi looks at the rear of the Audi e-tron GT quattro.

Do you mind going beyond your comfort zone?
I am a very curious person. I want to understand how the world works. I always ask “why?” when I learn something new. There are always much more efficient ways to do things. So, I always question what the primary goal of a product or process is. Is there room for improvement? And if we can optimise it ourselves, what technologies can we use to do that? If those technologies don’t exist, how can we develop them? In this thinking process, at first you feel like there seems to be so much to do. But then it just becomes very interesting. And that’s where I always want to be. That’s my lifeblood: The future is now.

How do you envision the future of mobility?
In 2007, I didn’t yet have a sense that everything would go electric. But by the time I joined Audi in 2012, it had all become clearer. There were hybrids. And battery quality had evolved. There was an idea of where the technology was going and the creation of Formula E and our efforts to win people over were rewarded with success. Disruptive technologies develop at an exponential rate – as was the case for mobile phones, the Internet, television. Electromobility still faces challenges. We have overcome the perception problem because we have shown with Formula E that electromobility can be sexy.

Could electromobility still be stopped?
No. The future is here – and it is bright. There is no debate. Electromobility is not a matter of taste – it is quite simply the best solution. All you need to do is look at the physics: The electric motor is much more efficient than an internal combustion engine. There is really nothing else to say. The future is electric – for everything, by the way. Okay, maybe not rockets, because the principle is different there. But at some point, even airplanes will be electrically powered.

Electromobility is not a matter of taste – it is quite simply the best solution.

Is there anything at all that doesn’t interest you?
Probably not much. But natural sciences actually interest me more than social sciences. I want to know what are the underlying structures that govern the world. I try to stay on top of technology, especially in the field of physics and even mathematics.

You’re currently moving into the future with an Audi e-tron GT quattro.

I really like it. It’s a car to adore, something that gets people passionate about technology. People see that sustainability and performance go hand in hand, that they are not mutually exclusive. The Audi e-tron GT quattro alone will not change the world. But it creates aspirations.

Tail light of the Audi e-tron GT quattro.Tail light of the Audi e-tron GT quattro.
Lucas di Grassi leans against the Audi e-tron GT quattro.Lucas di Grassi leans against the Audi e-tron GT quattro.
Looking through the windshield into the eyes of Lucas di Grassi.Looking through the windshield into the eyes of Lucas di Grassi.
 
The Audi e-tron GT quattro

The Audi e-tron GT quattro

In addition to its spellbinding sound, the Audi e-tron GT quattro is packed with lots of other highlights. Learn more about its progressive design and powerful dynamics.