The entire Group and the team at Audi Brussels in particular spent two years preparing for the start of electric mobility. The Belgian site is a key plant for electric mobility within the Audi Group.
The electric SUV has resulted in profound changes throughout production. Audi implemented the necessary operations step by step, so as to perfectly prepare the body shop, paint shop and assembly for the challenges of the Audi e-tron. The other plants involved from the production network were included from the very beginning. These include the press shops in Győr, Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, for example, which provide body parts in aluminum and steel. Technical Development, the Pre-Series Center, Logistics and Planning were also involved. At Audi Brussels itself, the move to electric mobility required changes to the very substance of the plant. Prior to the start of production of the Audi e-tron, the planners reinforced the entire hall level of the assembly shop and gradually reconfigured the assembly line.
No tank, no exhaust system, no internal combustion engine – rather an integrated battery unit and work performed under high voltage. Many steps in the production of the Audi e-tron have been completely rethought, planned and implemented. This already begins with the layout of the building. For the new battery assembly a logistics shop has been completely rebuilt. Production and Logistics ensure that the batteries will arrive at the line ready for installation in the car – just-in-sequence as it is known in the vernacular. The finished battery system is then transported to Installation Preparation. This unit is located on the ground floor of the Audi e-tron assembly hall. Many work steps there are very similar in their basic principles to those in the production of conventional cars with internal combustion engines. This is a major advantage for the employees, since most of them have previous experience with other production startups.
The experienced and extensively qualified team is a key pillar of the successful start of production. The team has an average of 19.3 years of experience at Audi Brussels. Over 900 workers lay hands on each Audi model in final assembly. In addition, there are also more than 400 robots used in production. They rather than the employees perform physically demanding activities or those that require contact with the high-voltage battery. The complete simulation of all production sequences in a virtual factory also played a key role in the smooth startup. Months before the actual start of production at the plant, the production planners used powerful computers to play through every scenario down to the smallest screw.
The first large component placed at the start of the two-kilometer (1.2 mi) production line is the front axle with the electric motor, gearbox and power electronics. The entire component comes from the electric axle assembly shop at Audi Hungaria. The next big work step in this assembly process is laying the high-voltage cables and connecting the coolant lines. The batteries in their housing, the cooling unit bonded to it and the underbody protection complete this work step. Before the underbody of the car being produced leaves the ground floor, the third major step is performed: the assembly of the rear axle, on which another electric motor is located.
Once the technology and drive units are complete, it is time for the “marriage” – connecting the body to the drive system. At exactly the right work cycle, the complete chassis frame from the ground floor below is fitted into the body through an opening specially created for this purpose. At the next station the electrically driven SUV finally receives its charging units and the corresponding connectors. The employees in this area are trained as electrical specialists.
As the Audi e-tron continues along its way through production, the control units are fed with data and trained. The windows, headlining, seats, steering wheel, displays and switches are now installed. The company pays the utmost attention to these classic parts with the
Audi e-tron as well. The quality of the interior with respect to materials and workmanship is a primary reason why millions of customers are fans of the brand with the four rings.
Before the Audi e-tron leaves production, it completes a comprehensive program on the break-in test bench. All important situations of subsequent operation are simulated – from battery charging to coasting and high-speed driving at full throttle. Finally, the car moves outside for the road test. The plant has a test track with various road surfaces where the Audi e-tron has to prove itself in various real-world driving situations. Only after the stringent acceptance procedure is the electric SUV ready to be delivered to the customer.
The equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.