Today Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said that Audi will build electric cars in all of their factories around the world, including plants in Mexico and Hungary, Automotive News reports. Previously, we reported on Audi’s main worker union demanding that Audi build EVs in their main plant in Ingolstadt, Germany, not just in smaller plants as they had previously planned.
Today’s comments seem a response to that demand, only even more sweeping than the union had requested. Not only will Audi build EVs in their main plant in Ingolstadt, but they will build them in their factories all over the rest of the world as well.
Audi’s labor union’s reasoning for demanding EVs be built in the main plant is that Audi needs to bring EVs into main focus, rather than as a side project, given that the future of the automotive industry is heading in that direction and it would be a disservice to Audi’s workers not to take the shift to new automotive technologies seriously.
Audi’s first EV, the e-tron quattro SUV, has been assigned to a plant in Brussels for production in 2018, and its second, the e-tron Sportback, will also be built in Brussels starting in 2019. Audi says it will have “about a dozen” battery-only models on the road by 2025.
I have been critical of Audi’s many electric vehicle announcements in the past. As I mentioned when we saw the e-tron Sportback driving around on a garage roof a few months ago, Audi has released many electric concepts before but as of now has nothing to show for it. The only electrified car they sell is the A3 plug-in hybrid, which was trialed as an all-electric car back in 2012 but ended up with an engine in it when it made it to production.
This is a common thread with Audi’s many concept cars they’ve released over the years – they either end up with an engine when they go to production, or they never make it to production at all. For this reason I’ve often called Audi “king of electric vehicle press releases.” And, of course, you can’t drive a press release.
So, again, I’ll wait until the cars actually make it to production, in significant numbers, and we see rubber on pavement. But if this move by Audi is a signal that they’re taking electric vehicles seriously – along with parent company VW’s $84 billion investment into EVs, then it is certainly a very welcome signal. Hopefully they go through with it this time. Because the e-tron Sportback looks like it will be a good car…if they can follow through on their promises.