Audi pauses e-tron production in Brussels
Audi is completely stopping production of the e-tron in Brussels for a few days due to supply chain issues. Short-time work has been announced for the plant, as the company has confirmed.
First the business newspaper ‘l’Echo’ had reported about the forced production stop, which was later confirmed by an Audi spokesman to the Belgian news agency ‘Belga’. Exactly how long production will be suspended is not known – according to Audi it will be “a few days”.
At Belga’s request, the plant spokesman did not want to specify which parts were missing for the production of the electric SUV and which supplier was responsible. However, the problem had nothing to do with the coronavirus epidemic in China.
Currently Audi is producing 20 vehicles per hour in Brussels, a planned increase to 24 vehicles per hour has already been postponed. With a production stop of “a few days”, this should mean a high three-digit to low four-digit number of vehicles that are not being built for the time being.
It had already been reported in January that production of the Audi e-tron would be reduced in the first quarter. It was suspected that there were supply problems with the battery cells, as the problems affected the supplier LG Chem in particular. According to an earlier report by “l’Echo”, among others, Audi had suspended night-time production of battery module assembly. This is also in line with information from electrive.net, according to which the Korean supplier is having difficulties with the ramp-up of the new production lines. However, this has not yet been officially confirmed.
From the Polish plant near Wroclaw, LG Chem plans to supply the carmakers with cells for around 300,000 electric cars per year. To this end, the company has increased the originally planned investment of 320 million euros to almost 1.4 billion euros. With this rapid expansion of production, the ramp-up seems to be somewhat slower than hoped for. Audi is probably not the only carmaker affected: Mercedes is said to have throttled EQC production or postponed the North American start due to the shortage of batteries – but the Stuttgart company contradicts the reports. Jaguar, too, uses cells from LG Chem in Poland for the I-Pace and recently had to stop production due to a lack of battery cells.
Interestingly enough, Ford is still relaxed: The American carmaker also uses LG Chem cells from the Polish plant for the Mustang Mach E. Ford will then ship the cells to Mexico and install them in the Mustang Mach E there. In a recent interview, Ted Cannis, Director Global Electrification, said that he was “very confident” and assumed that the competition was more likely to have a lack of demand than scarce batteries. However, Ford won’t need the cells in larger numbers for several months, even if the start-up difficulties at LG Chem have probably been resolved – the competition already needs them now.
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany.
handelsblatt.com (German), lecho.be (French)
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