Belgian factory currently building the Audi A1 will be overhauled by 2018
As automakers start to realise their promised transition towards greater electrification, Audi is the latest brand to provide an update on its plans for a factory overhaul.
Following in the fresh footsteps of BMW and Daimler, and together with parent Volkswagen Group, Audi outlined plans for its so-called “E-factory” in Brussels. In 2018, this site will begin producing the brand’s first all-electric SUV, the Audi e-tron Quattro SUV.
Currently tooled to build the Audi A1, the company says the transition will not require too drastic a change – battery cells, for instance, will still be shipped in – but it will become an integrated four-part building, housing battery system assembly, bodyshell manufacturing and more.
Project Manager for Production, Bertram Günter explained: “We plan to retain the same number of workers currently building the A1 in two shifts. Because the larger SUV has more production content than the smaller Audi A1, the workforce will still be running at full capacity. And the layout of the halls is also very convenient. Battery assembly will take place in one hall that’s currently used for logistics.”
Internally the project is referred to as the C-BEV – C standing for the vehicle class, BEV for battery-electric vehicle. It is based on a new platform developed for all-electric drive, featuring three electric motors (two rear and one in the front of the chassis), and a battery between the two axles.
2015 concept studies suggested it would feature a 95 kWh battery pack, but final specs have not been made clear beyond a stated single-charge range of around 310 miles. Pricing and final details are expected in late 2017.
Nevertheless, the repositioning of the Belgian factory is notable – this is no longer an exercise. As Volkswagen notes in an article on the change, the company now embracing a production process which features “electric motors instead of internal combustion engines, batteries instead of fuel tanks.”