The primary Audi Q8 e-tron rolled off the manufacturing line at Audi’s manufacturing facility in Brussels, Belgium on December 14th. The occasion in and of itself was pretty mundane, with staff and firm management standing on the finish of the manufacturing line to drive the autos off the road.
However in fact, the ceremony stood for rather more than simply one other begin of manufacturing occasion. Audi formally welcomed the e-tron as one of many household beneath its new title — the Audi Q8 e-tron. The beginning of manufacturing is, in reality, rather more like a marriage ceremony than it’s simply one other automobile being added to the lineup.
Disclaimer: Audi paid for journey and lodging for the writer to attend the SOP occasion.
Earlier than the launch, e-tron was an nearly experimental label, tacked onto plug-in hybrids and the corporate’s first absolutely electrical automobile, merely dubbed the Audi e-tron. It was a one-off inside Audi and didn’t actually match into the model’s total lineup of sedans, sports activities automobiles, and SUVs. The formal begin of manufacturing of the Q8 e-tron and Q8 Sportback e-tron modifications all of that, formally integrating electrical autos into the Audi household of autos as the corporate takes the primary few strides into the absolutely electrical future.
The way forward for Audi is electrical and that may be a enormous deal. For years now, electrical automobile pundits have talked in regards to the benefits upstarts have over their legacy counterparts. No tradition to alter. The benefit of being the underdog. Having a missional firm from day one. The dearth of any sunk prices for legacy combustion automobile traces. The checklist goes on. The Q8 e-tron and Q8 Sportback e-tron modified all of that in a single single day.
This present day has been within the making for years and to actually perceive the tradition at Audi and particularly, the Audi Brussels plant, we’ll need to rewind the tape a couple of many years.
The manufacturing facility itself is nestled in amongst residential and industrial buildings of Brussels. It has fashioned a key piece of the material of the town for many years, because it opened in put up World Conflict 2. That in and of itself was an enormous feat, displaying that Europe was lastly dusting itself off from the horrors of the conflict and rebuilding a brand new European industrial machine. The Brussels manufacturing facility produced practically two dozen totally different autos for the Volkswagen group and the wealthy historical past of that legacy is obvious all through the manufacturing facility.
Manufacturing began off with the Studebaker and advanced over time, producing a spread of fashions. Volkswagen took possession of the plant in 1970 and it produced a few of Volkswagen’s most iconic autos together with the Passat and Golf. In 2007, the choice was made to transform Brussels manufacturing to Audi and it started a brand new life but once more. It produced numerous A1 and S1 fashions up till 2016 when a brand new chapter was opened in Brussels.
As plans for Audi’s first manufacturing electrical automobile, dubbed merely the Audi e-tron, formed up in 2016, the choice was made to construct the sport altering automobile in Brussels. Manufacturing began just some years later in 2018 as the corporate explored new methods to construct the utterly new set of parts underpinning its first manufacturing electrical automobile. Maybe extra importantly, the corporate realized simply how a lot of a cultural shift electrical autos represented.
Now not would manufacturing traces crank out transmissions and highly effective petrol engines. The trunk-sized energy crops that had moved their autos ahead for many years would get replaced by electrical motors the scale of a big watermelon. Gasoline tanks had been out in favor of flat, dense battery packs crammed with a very new cocktail of supplies that required rethinking your complete provide chain and got here with their very own challenges with extraction, second life disposition, and recyclability.
The change was fast and in a really brief span, Audi had transformed the Brussels plant to supply solely the absolutely electrical e-tron. Towards all odds, Audi has seemingly efficiently transformed its Brussels manufacturing facility and pulled a quite fast about face. It has taken the leap ahead into the electrical future and has landed on two toes. The Q8 e-trons and Q8 Sportback e-trons rolling off the manufacturing line on its first day are proof of this.
The Q8 e-tron strikes the needle ahead for Audi, with 373 miles / 600 kilometers of vary per cost (WLTP) and 170 kW DC quick charging functionality. It’s simply not only a quick peak charging price, however Audi additionally fantastic tuned the charging curve to maximise energy supply. On paper, that interprets to a charging time from 10-80% of simply half-hour however we must wait to see what each the vary and charging speeds translate to in the true world.
To attain the brand new, increased vary, Audi did a ton of labor all through the powertrain and battery pack, however the stand out is within the aerodynamics. The automobile’s low profile digital mirrors and overhauled grill work along with the underbody shielding to present the automobile its spectacular 0.24 coefficient of drag.
We toured Audi’s first battery pack manufacturing facility, the place 36 battery modules from Audi’s provider SDI are assembled into the bigger 115kWh packs for the Q8 e-tron. Audi employs 100 individuals per shift on the battery pack meeting facility, with a military of Fanuc robots doing a ton of the heavy lifting of the modules. The power is extremely automated as a way of driving increased high quality and extra repeatable outcomes. It’s a powerful operation and is a real testomony to simply how a lot work Audi has put into the design of its battery pack and the manufacturing traces churning them out.
Innovation has been woven into the material of the tradition in Brussels, with enhancements being rolled into the manufacturing traces regularly. Audi has had 4 years to optimize manufacturing of battery packs and in that point, has cranked out sufficient quantity for 160,000 Audi e-trons. Shifting ahead, the plant will ramp as much as help manufacturing of the Q8 e-tron with work already underway to help manufacturing of the This autumn e-tron early subsequent 12 months. Launch for the This autumn e-tron is slated for the center of 2023 as Audi continues to push ahead into the brand new absolutely electrical future.
A Q6 e-tron can be within the works, with Audi leveraging its huge manufacturing community to optimize the associated fee, high quality, and schedule of manufacturing throughout its community to help the manufacturing ramp. Employees who beforehand produced combustion autos in Audi’s largest facility, in Ingolstadt, Germany, will quickly be producing battery packs for the Q6 e-tron. Employees at Audi’s manufacturing facility in Győr, Hungary who used to supply petrol motors and autos will now produce the electrical motors that hold the wheels spinning on Audi’s electrical autos, transported to Brussels through the present low emission rail community.
The transformation to a totally electrical lineup is vital for Audi, because it pivots to align its automobile choices with rising buyer demand for battery electrical autos. Zero emission autos are the long run at Audi and that idea is carried ahead into the crops producing them as effectively. Audi has set a purpose for all of its manufacturing amenities to attain CO2 neutrality by 2029 and work is already underway at a lot of its crops to attain this.
In Brussels, the overwhelming majority of the roof of the manufacturing facility has been coated with photo voltaic panels. Brussels in all probability isn’t someplace you’d anticipate a ton of photo voltaic panels to be put in, however even in Brussels, the 9.5MW system cranks out 9,000 MWh of energy per 12 months that’s instantly consumed by the plant. Its manufacturing facility in Győr, Hungary took the crown as the most important rooftop photo voltaic system in Europe at 12MW when it was put in in 2018 and equally supplies energy on to the manufacturing facility it rests on.
The longer term is electrical and from what we noticed at Audi, they’ve been pushing ahead in the direction of that future for years already. The transition to not simply battery electrical autos, however a holistic strategy to rebuilding every of Audi’s operations with sustainability in thoughts. With the addition of the Q8 e-tron and Q8 Sportback e-tron to the household and manufacturing of the This autumn e-tron and Q6 e-tron set to ramp up within the coming months, it seems to be like Audi is on the brink of stomp on the
fuel pedal accelerator pedal to blast off into the absolutely electrical future.
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