Audi Plan For The Production of the Future
Audi is all in on electromobility: As of 2026, Audi will only launch all-electric models onto the global market, gradually phasing out production of its combustion models by 2033. Based on this clear decision made as part of its Vorsprung 2030 corporate strategy, Audi is now taking steps to prepare its global facilities for the production of all-electric cars.
The Audi Board Member for Production and Logistics wants to make manufacturing flexible and resilient to ensure it will be future-proof in the long term. In keeping with this aim, Audi developed its comprehensive strategy taking various perspectives into account. Walker and his team focused on the following questions: “What does society expect from us? What do our customers demand? What are the expectations of stakeholders, and what will our employees need in the future?” In response, Audi has created the 360factory; a vision of the future. The approach places equal emphasis on cost-effectiveness, sustainability, flexibility, and attractiveness.
Ambitious Roadmap On The Road To E-Mobility
By the end of the decade, Audi will be making electric-drive models at all of its production sites worldwide. “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,” says Walker. Two sites, Böllinger Höfe and Brussels, are already producing all-electric vehicles. Starting next year, the Audi Q6 e-tron will be the first all-electric model to roll off the production line in Ingolstadt. And production of all-electric cars will gradually start in Neckarsulm, San José Chiapa, and Győr as well. In 2029, all production sites will be producing at least one all-electric vehicle 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) technology platform will be locally produced. With construction set to finish by the end of 2024, this will be the first automotive plant in China where only all-electric Audi models roll off the line.
Transformation – The Catalyst For Increased Productivity
However, electrifying its plants is but one aspect on the road to Audi’s vision for the production of the future. “We will use the transition to e-mobility to make major leaps in productivity and optimization by making the necessary modifications,” says Walker. Once it is equipped for the future, Audi’s production network is intended to be economical, sustainable, and attractive as well as flexible. Four central goals with ambitious key figures: To ensure that future production will be economical, Audi wants to cut annual factory costs in half by 2033. To achieve this, the brand with the four rings plans to reduce the complexity of its vehicles where it does not benefit the customer – to this end, vehicle development will take a streamlined production process into account from stage one. The premium manufacturer will also continue to digitalize production, for example, with the Edge Cloud 4 Production solution using local servers. This will make it possible to replace expensive industrial PCs, reducing IT efforts such as software rollouts and operating system changes. In the future, Audi will also be using another new solution – cycle-independent modular assembly – to simplify work with high product variability. Virtual assembly planning saves material resources and makes innovative, flexible collaboration possible across locations.
Flexible, Sustainable Production
To ensure the premium manufacturer will be able to respond more flexibly to fluctuations in customer demand or production program, Audi will make its manufacturing processes even more flexible. “We want to structure both product and production so we get the optimum benefit for our customers,” says Walker. To this end, the new Audi Q6 e-tron, for example, will initially be made in Ingolstadt on the same line as the Audi A4 and A5. The electric models will then gradually replace the combustion cars on the lines.
On its way to becoming a 360factory, Audi is now setting itself even more ambitious sustainability targets related to production. By 2030, the company aims to cut its absolute environmental impact in the areas of primary energy consumption, power plant emissions, CO2 equivalents, air pollutants, local water risk, and wastewater and waste volumes in half, compared with the 2018 figure. Important steps to achieve this goal include generating renewable energy in-house and using innovative technologies to create more circular value chains where resources used are utilized in closed cycles.
Attractive Internally and Externally
The Audi 360factory will also showcase Audi as an attractive employer both internally and externally – particularly within production. As part of this commitment, Audi is currently working on concepts for making working hours more flexible, even in areas that are tied to specific shifts. Audi is also making the working environment and break rooms more comfortable for its employees. The Audi Production division does not see itself purely as a vehicle manufacturer, but also as a developer of process technology. “We want to be the best employer – for our employees already on board as well as for all applicants, students, and professionals,” says Walker. “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.”
As Audi’s first fully comprehensive 360factory, the Ingolstadt plant will serve as a blueprint for the transformation of the company’s large-scale production facilities worldwide. The other sites will tackle the transformation step-by-step. “We still have a long way to go,” says Walker. “But the direction we’re headed in and the steps to get there are clear.”