Is the future of Audi Brussels threatened?

According to the specialized German magazine Automobilwoche, there’s a possibility that the Audi plant in Brussels will be closed. In a worldwide restructuring of the VW Group factories (including those of premium daughter Audi), no new car would be allocated anymore to Brussels. Hence, the closing of the factory after 2027.

Automobilwoche states that Audi wants to reduce its European production, making the Audi plant in Brussels superfluous. At the moment, 3 000 people assemble the Q8 e-tron in Brussels. Last year, they built 53 555 units of the SUV and the Sportback coupe version. Now, there are plans to build its successor no longer in Europe but in the Audi plant in Puebla, Mexico, and in Changchun, China.

Vulnerable

The Brussels Audi plant is vulnerable because it depends entirely on one model, the aging Q8 e-tron, a revised version of the first electric Audi called simply e-tron. The production of this Q8 e-tron is planned until 2027 when the new one has to take over.

Last year, the people in the factory were hopeful when Audi planned back-up production for the smaller Q4 e-tron (MEB platform) in Brussels, but demand for all the cars on this platform has weakened so that the German plant of Zwickau can handle it on its own for the moment and even had to fire people because of overcapacity. Moving Q4 e-tron production to Brussels wasn’t needed anymore.

Audi is not communicating on the matter at the moment. Audi Brussels spokesman Peter D’Hoore doesn’t want to “comment on rumors”. However, anxiety has flared up again on the Brussels work floor.

Ronny Liedts, an ACV union representative, told Flemish national television that the factory’s production volumes are already decreasing due to lesser demand for the big Q8 e-tron. “For me, it’s clear that there are already too many people in the factory; I fear for the future of the 500 temporary workers. ”

The union doesn’t want to speculate about news that has only come from German press sources, but as of tomorrow, they will surely ask for clarification at the Audi direction level.

Audi Brussels

Audi Brussels is the latest version of a factory in the southwest of Brussels that was started by Belgian VW importer D’Ieteren after World War II. Until the beginning of the seventies, D’Ieteren assembled the Beetle model in Brussels on behalf of Volkswagen but decided to sell the factory to Volkswagen.

For over thirty years, different VW models were assembled in Brussels; most of them were Golf variants, but there were also Polo and Passat models. Around the century turn, there were often difficulties with what was then called Volkswagen Vorst, and VW’s direction wanted to get rid of this ‘difficult environment.’

But Ferdinand Piëch himself, positively influenced by the (then) Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt and his school friend and VW importer Roland D’Ieteren, decided that the plant would start building Audi models. Audi Brussels was born, primarily building the small Audi A1. When this production went to Spain, Audi started its EV production first in Brussels.

 

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