Audi & FAW receive approval to build EV plant in China

Audi and FAW have received approval from the Chinese authorities to build an electric car plant as part of their joint venture. Production of up to 150,000 electric cars per year is scheduled to start at the end of 2024.

++ This article has been updated; please continue reading below. ++

According to the planning authority of China’s northeastern province of Jilin, work on the plant will start in April in the provincial capital Changchun. Both companies are investing a total of 20.93 billion yuan (2.91 billion euros) in the plant. Production is scheduled to start in December 2024.

This leaves Audi little room for delay if the original announcements are to be kept. In January 2021, the German carmaker issued a target for the joint electric car plant with FAW to start production in 2024. However, the electric Audis inevitably built there will be based on the ‘Premium Platform Electric’ (PPE) developed jointly with Porsche – i.e. higher-positioned models such as an electric A6, not MEB models.

The authorisation for the plant became a little more concrete at this point, with plans for producing three electric models, including an SUV. So far, Audi has announced two PPE SUVs, the Q6 e-tron (to be built in Ingolstadt, Germany) and the Q8 e-tron from Brussels. It is unclear whether the Chinese-built model is one of the two series or an offshoot explicitly developed for China.

“The Audi FAW NEV project is an important cornerstone of Audi’s electrification strategy in China,” a Volkswagen spokesperson confirmed the approval when asked by Reuters. “We are consistently pushing ahead with the relevant work in this project. Construction of the plant is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2022.”

The second quarter would be in line with the information in the permit, which states that construction should start in April. FAW did not respond to a Reuters query.

Audi holds a 60 per cent stake in the electric joint venture with FAW, meaning it controls most of the company.

Update 29 June 2022

Just over four months after approval, Audi and FAW have begun factory construction. By the end of 2024, the first plant building Audi EVs exclusively in China will appear in the northern Chinese metropolis of Changchun – specifically, Audi electric cars based on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) will be made there. According to Audi, this will initially involve three models from the Audi A6 e-tron and Audi Q6 e-tron series.

The factory is designed to produce more than 150,000 vehicles annually. Audi expects to create up to 3,000 jobs there. The new plant covers an area of around 150 hectares – making it slightly larger than the Audi plant in Neckarsulm when completed. As Audi announced on the laying of the foundation stone, the site will see 20 buildings by the end of 2022. The trades accommodated cover the entire value chain of automobile production. In addition to a press shop, body shop, paint shop and vehicle assembly, there will also be a battery assembly plant. This is where Audi will manufacture the high-voltage batteries for the China-specific PPE models in the future.

“The start of construction for our new plant in Changchun is an important milestone for Audi in China. With Audi FAW NEV Company, we are bringing the PPE platform to China and producing market-specific all-electric models directly on site,” says Audi CEO Markus Duesmann. He is also responsible for China on the Board of Management. “The cooperation company thus plays a decisive role in the further electrification of our model range for the Chinese market.”

Changchun is the headquarters of long-time Audi partner FAW, which has built Audis for China since 1988. The electric car joint venture Audi FAW NEV Company will have its HQ at the new factory. Audi says it invests around 2.6 billion euros in the overall project – building the company and production plant., (update June ’22)


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