Audi labor leaders are demanding that management assign production of at least one all-electric model to the brand’s main production facility in Germany (Ingolstadt).
The labor leaders are reportedly worried that they might lose market share and work as electric vehicles become more popular over the coming years.
To explain the situation a bit better here, Audi’s first electric model — the e-tron quattro SUV — is slated to begin mass production next year in Brussels. That is also where the battery packs to be used in other VW Group models will apparently be produced.
The top labor representative at Audi, Peter Mosch, was recently quoted as telling a gathering of 7,000 workers at the Ingolstadt plant: “Our core factory must be prepared further for the future.” Mosch represents 43,000 Audi workers at this main plant.
And deputy works council chief, Max Waecker, was quoted as saying: “None of our colleagues must fall off the conveyer belt as we move into the future.”
Steve Hanley provides more on sister site CleanTechnica: “Rupert Stadler, Audi’s CEO, has already said that the company’s factory in Neckarsulm will begin manufacturing electric cars starting in 2020. That plant is currently where Audi manufacturers its A6, A7 and A8 models and employs about 16,000 workers. The crew at Ingolstadt want to make sure they don’t get left by the wayside like Conestoga wagon makers were at the dawn of the automotive age.”
Reuters adds: “Mosch, who sits on parent VW’s supervisory board, asked top management to provide specific information as to how the growing shift to electric cars and digital services will affect employment at Audi, which has 88,000 workers globally. Audi has previously been reluctant to embrace all-electric drive technology but the success of Tesla and arch rival BMW’s i series of electric cars has convinced Audi there is a market for electric luxury vehicles after all.”
Back to Steve: “Audi’s work force sees to be more in tune with what is happening in the automotive marketplace than management is.” Indeed.
In related news, rival Daimler (Mercedes-Benz, smart, etc.) recently announced that it will accelerate its electric vehicle plans in a bid to counteract the effect of growing SUV sales on fleet-wide emissions in Europe. In other words, Daimler was also moving slowly, but had to speed things up to deal with excessive emissions across the fleet of vehicles it sells.
Granted, automakers will be in a world of hurt if they move very fast into EV production. They have a lot of money, worker expertise, intellectual property, and factory equipment sunk into gasoline and diesel engine production. Switching to EVs overnight would mean writing off a lot of machinery, losing competitive advantage, needing to retrain workers, and, basically, going into the red.
Here’s a relevant comment over on Steve’s article:
“That is similar to what I recommended to my engineer friend working in the Audi factory here in Győr, Hungary. They are mostly a engine factory but they also assemble some of the the car types.
“He said that if they completely switched to electric motor production major part of the workforce would need to be fired (electric motors are dead simple compared to gas/diesel engines).
“My idea was that they should start lobbying to get battery pack assembly as well. If they are quick enough, they can build up competence and snatch the opportunity from the other competing Audy factories.”