Phasing Out Gasoline by 2033
Audi, the “vorsprung durch technik” company, is all-in on electric. The brand has already announced that it has stopped development of gasoline internal combustion engines, and will only launch all-electric models starting in 2026. By 2033, Audi will stop building gasoline cars altogether. Its plan is one of the most aggressive among the legacy European manufacturers.
The company is already deep in preparations for the transition to full electric production. And unlike many other brands, Audi does not intend to open any new factories to build its new electric models. Instead, it will build on its existing global production network to achieve its electric goals.
“Step by step, we are bringing all our sites into the future,” said Audi Board Member for Production and Logistics, Gerd Walker. “We don’t want any standalone lighthouse projects on greenfield sites. Instead, we are investing in our existing plants so they end up being just as efficient and flexible as newly built production sites or greenfield plants.”
According to Walker, this approach is a far more sustainable one than the new factories being built by competitors. It’s more sustainable economically – though the company’s investments will total billions of Euros – but also more sustainable ecologically. Not building new factories means not having to disrupt new environments, and instead upgrading Audi’s existing infrastructure and footprint. Audi calls its approach the 360factory – balancing the demands of its consumers, stakeholders, and employees.
Investing in Training and Productivity
To achieve its production goals, Audi will lean on its existing staff, upgrading their skills between now and 2025. Its training budget alone totals 500 million Euros. At the end of the process, electric production will expand from the current two sites in Germany and Belgium to plants around the world – Mexico, Hungary, China, and beyond. The next site to take on all-electric vehicle production will be Audi’s original Ingolsadt plant, which will start Q6 e-tron production next year. By 2029, all of the company’s plants will be producing at least one electric model, with the phase-out of combustion models starting in 2030.
Audi also intends to use the transition to electric to make major upgrades in productivity at all of its factories. It says that future production will be far more economical than now, and plans to cut annual factory costs in half by 2033. That will largely be achieved by reducing the complexity of its vehicles where it does not benefit the customer.
What does that mean for you? More componentry that you don’t see and touch, such as climate control systems, infotainment software, and other related systems, will be shared between more models. Modular assemblies of components will still allow a high degree of variability between various products.
Production in large factories is still largely governed by large, industrial-scale PCs; in the transition to electric, Audi will transition to local, lower-cost servers, which should reduce IT costs and make production more efficient.
Moving to Carbon Neutrality
The new, more flexible production processes will allow the production of electric cars to be integrated seamlessly into existing production lines, which currently build gasoline vehicles. For instance, when the new Q6 e-tron launches, it will be made in Ingolstadt on the same production line as the Audi A4 and A5 gasoline cars. Electric vehicles will gradually replace combustion vehicles over time.
The careful, staged conversion of production from gasoline to electric at existing factories is a key part of Audi’s efforts to reduce its ecological footprint. The company’s stated goal is to make all of its production sites worldwide carbon-neutral by 2025. The next steps in the company’s plan include addressing resource and water efficiency, and protecting and preserving biodiversity. Indeed, in 2018, Audi’s Mexico plant became the world’s first plant to produce cars entirely wastewater-free.
By 2030, the company is aiming to cut its environmental impact in primary energy consumption, power plant emissions, air pollutants, local water risk, and waste water and waste volumes in half.