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Audi’s first EV set for Belgian production in 2018

Brussels sprout: Belgium has won the job of producing Audi’s first battery-electric vehicle based on the E-tron Quattro that surfaced in concept form at Frankfurt.

Green light for Audi E-tron Quattro production triggers plant shuffle across Europ

21 Jan 2016

AUDI is preparing to shuffle production locations for several of its European-built models to accommodate its first all-electric vehicle, a large SUV called the E-tron Quattro in its concept form, at its Belgium plant in 2018.

The German company will also make electric vehicle batteries for the entire Volkswagen Group at the Brussels plant, which currently builds the baby of the Audi range, the A1.

In a game of automotive dominoes, A1 production will be shifted to Audi’s Martorell plant in Spain, while Q3 SUV production will be transferred from Spain to Hungary’s Gyor factory.

German automotive unions are not thrilled about Ingolstadt’s decision to build the EV outside of its home country, but Audi AG chairman Rupert Stadler said the model redistribution would protect jobs, enhance production efficiency and strengthen all of the sites involved.

“It will allow us to utilise further synergies within the Volkswagen Group and to bundle key competencies,” he said.

The name of the final production version has not yet been confirmed, with Audi saying only referring to it as an electric-driven SUV that will sit between Q5 and Q7. The Q6 moniker has been bandied around by some journalists.

Revealed in concept form at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show in September, the production version of E-tron Quattro will be powered by three electric motors packing up to 370kW of power that can propel it from standstill to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds.

Power will be drawn from a 95kWh lithium-ion battery packed flat in the floor, giving it a theoretical single-charge range of up to 500km.

Audi also promises quick battery charging in the production version, but there was no mention of the wireless induction charging featured in the concept.

Audi Australia has already expressed interest in the production version of E-tron Quattro for this market, although the vehicle is more than two years away from showroom introduction.

Senior product communications executive Shaun Cleary said the success of the plug-in A3 Sportback E-tron that was launched in Australia last August had whet the company’s appetite for more alternative-energy vehicles.

He said about 60 of the petrol-electric hybrid hatchbacks had been sold in Australia since launch – a rate that Audi regarded as a great success.

The E-tron Quattro is likely to be Audi Australia’s second electrified vehicle to market, as the upcoming R8 E-tron is likely to be made only in left-hand drive and in limited numbers.

Further down the track, Audi is exploring hydrogen fuel cell power. This month at the Detroit motor show, it unveiled the H-tron Quattro with such a powertrain capable of 100kW of power.

Based on the E-tron Quattro, is said to have a range of 600km from 6kg of hydrogen held at extreme pressure in three composite tanks.

Unlike the E-tron Quattro, no production plans have been announced.

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