The most significant tipping points for electromobility will be when automakers stop producing ICE vehicles. Audi has announced a couple of definite (if rather timid) steps in that direction: the brand is beginning to prepare its global facilities for the production of EVs; it will only launch all-electric models as of 2026; and it will gradually phase out production of its combustion models by 2033.
Unlike some competitors, which are building dedicated EV plants, Audi plans to build on its existing global production network. “Step by step, we are bringing all our sites into the future,” says Audi Board Member for Production and Logistics Gerd Walker. “We don’t want any standalone lighthouse projects on greenfield sites. Instead, we are investing in our existing plants so they end up being just as efficient and flexible as newly built production sites. The path Audi is taking conserves resources and accelerates our transformation.” (It may also allow the company to calibrate the speed of that transformation, extending ICE production if the political winds shift.)
By the end of the decade, Audi says it will be making EVs at all of its production sites worldwide. “We will make all our employees fit for the future by 2025 with a training budget of around 500 million euros,” says Walker. Two sites, Böllinger Höfe and Brussels, are already producing EVs. The Audi Q6 e-tron will roll off the production line in Ingolstadt next year, and production of EVs will gradually start in Neckarsulm, San José Chiapa and Győr as well. By 2029, all production sites will be producing at least one electric model. “Depending on local conditions,” production of the remaining combustion models will be gradually phased out by the beginning of the next decade.
New plants will only be built where additional capacity is needed. For example, Audi and its partner FAW are currently building a site in Changchun, China, where models based on the PPE (Premium Platform Electric) platform will be locally produced.
“We will use the transition to e-mobility to make major leaps in productivity and optimization by making the necessary modifications,” says Walker. Audi wants to cut factory costs in half by 2033 by streamlining the production process. The company also aims to make its manufacturing processes more flexible. The new Q6 e-tron, for example, will initially be made in Ingolstadt on the same line as the legacy A4 and A5. The electric models will gradually replace the combustion cars on the lines.
Sustainability is another major goal—Audi hopes to make all its production sites worldwide net carbon-neutral by 2025. By 2030, the company aims to cut its environmental impact in the areas of primary energy consumption, power plant emissions, air pollutants and water usage in half, compared with the 2018 figure.