Soon, each and every one of Audi's global plants will produce at least one electric vehicle. After 2026, no new Audis will be gas-powered.
As Audi plans to introduce electric-only models from 2026 (and phase out ICE vehicles entirely by 2033), the Ingolstadt-based automaker is preparing to change the way it builds cars in the future.
These changes are coming to Audi's production facilities around the globe, and the company hopes to standardize all its plants. Whether old or brand new, all plants will be paragons of efficiency. "Step by step, we are bringing all our sites into the future," explains Audi's 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 or greenfield plants," he added.
Walker notes this plan of action will fast-track Audi's ambitions of becoming a leader in the sustainable premium mobility sector. To achieve this goal, Audi has implemented 360factory, which places an emphasis on things such as sustainability, attractiveness, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility.
Currently, two of Audi's sites build electric vehicles. The RS e-tron GT is built at Bollinger-Hofe while the Q8 e-tron SUV is assembled at Audi Brussels in Belgium. Before the decade concludes, Audi plans to produce electric vehicles at all of its production sites across the world.
From next year, the yet-to-be-revealed Audi Q6 e-tron will enter production at the Ingolstadt facility, making it the first electric model to be built at the plant. Shortly after, Audi EVs will silently slink out of the Neckarsulm, Gyor, and San Jose Chiapa factories. The brand is confident that by 2029, all its production sites will be building at least one electric vehicle.
"To achieve our goal, we are relying on our highly qualified staff and will make all our employees fit for the future by 2025 with a training budget of around 500 million euros," notes Walker.
An entirely new factory in China is slated for completion in 2024 and will be the first plant in the country where only Audi EVs are produced.
Audi will also take the opportunity to improve productivity and create a more economical and sustainable production network. The automaker is aiming to halve annual factory costs by 2023. This will be achieved by reducing the complexity of its vehicles "where it does not benefit the customer."
Some of the initiatives include streamlining vehicle development to include production processes from the get-go. Production will also become digitalized, meaning it won't be reliant on expensive software rollouts and operating system changes. At a later date, Audi will execute a plan involving cycle-independent module assembly. This process will allow the automaker to simplify work with "high product variability."
To cater to the needs of its varied client base, manufacturing processes will be made flexible. The aforementioned Q6 e-tron, for example, will be produced on the same assembly line as the Audi A4 and A5. Sadly, for those who have gasoline running through their veins, battery-powered vehicles will slowly replace the ICE vehicles in these facilities.
"We want to structure both product and production so we get the optimum benefit for our customers," Walker added.
As you'd expect, Audi is also hoping to transform these factories into carbon-neutral facilities. Several plants have already been converted to these environmentally friendly standards with many more to follow. Part of this lofty goal will see these assembly locations generating renewable energy, for example.
It's not just the factories and vehicles that will benefit from the 360factory initiative. Audi wants to position itself as an attractive employer, especially within the production sector. As such, the premium automaker is working on providing flexible working hours, creating positive working environments, as well as more enjoyable break rooms.
"We want to be the best employer - for our employees already on board as well as for all applicants, students, and professionals. Our transformation into the 360factory will require the very best minds, even in disciplines not commonly associated with production, such as electronics and software development, "concluded Walker.