Audi ponders Brussels plant closure; threatens future of Q8 e-Tron | CAR Magazine

Audi ponders Brussels plant closure; threatens future of Q8 e-Tron

Published: 10 July 2024

► Audi mulls future of Brussels EV plant
► Industry ‘witnessing global decline’ of big EVs
► Q8 e-Tron family built there

Audi has announced it is formulating a plan for the future of its electric car manufacturing plant in Brussels, which could result in its closure ‘if no alternative is found.’

The brand says it is ‘witnessing a global decline in customer orders in the electric luxury class segment,’ which is drastically affecting its production of the Q8 e-Tron SUV and Sportback models that are manufactured at the Belgian plant.

Audi’s operations in Brussels have seen significant changes and investment over the years as it had been ramping up its EV manufacturing to help its transition to making more electric vehicles.

However, demand for electric cars has slumped in recent months, resulting in a vast drop in the plant’s productivity. Given the plant’s tight confines and location to the city centre of Brussels, Audi is also citing inflexibility in terms of how to alter how the factory operates as another reason for thinking the unthinkable.

‘The announcement of the intention does not mean that a decision has been made. Nevertheless, this news has been felt very profoundly by the employees in Brussels and by me too. A transparent and constructive dialog is important in the process that will follow. We will take all perspectives into account,’ says Volker Germann, CEO of Audi Brussels.

‘The employee representatives of AUDI AG are calling for long-term prospects for the plant and our colleagues in Brussels. Audi management must take responsibility for the site. We hope that a viable and sustainable solution will be reached in the course of the consultation process that has now been initiated,’ adds Rita Beck, spokesperson for the Audi Committee in the European VW Group Works Council.

The news feeds into a wider trend we’re seeing in the car industry. After dramatic investment into electrification, some brands are stepping back as demand slumps. Volkswagen Group has announced Premium Platform Combustion to sit alongside its Premium Platform Electric (which underpins cars like the Porsche Macan EV and Audi Q6 e-Tron), and rivals like Mercedes-Benz are drastically altering their powertrain plans.

Audi is in the middle of deciding how to proceed with its Brussels plant. As well as the potential of stopping production of the Q8 e-Tron early, the plant’s closure could result in serious consequences for the circa-3000 skilled employees at the facility.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches