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Audi previews new electric car factory: ‘Electric motors instead of internal combustion engines, batteries instead of fuel tanks’

There’s nothing more concrete in the electric vehicle revolution than when legacy automakers are converting internal combustion engine production capacity to electric motor production.

Audi seems to understand that as it previews its new electric car factory by saying: “electric motors instead of internal combustion engines, batteries instead of fuel tanks.”

They are gearing up to start production of the Audi e-tron quattro next year at their Brussels plant, which is being revamped with new production lines.

New production planning at what Audi is now calling its ‘E-factory’ is reportedly going at “full speed”.

Bertram Günter, Project Manager Production, explains what they are doing to convert the plant:

“We plan to retain the same number of workers currently building the A1 in two shifts. Because the larg­er SUV has more production content than the smaller Audi A1, the workforce will still be running at full capacity. And the layout of the halls is also very convenient. Battery assembly will take place in one hall that’s currently used for logistics. The main contractor there is Audi Toolmaking, which is preparing all the equipment.”

The front of the factory is for logistics and the back will have the new battery pack assembly line:

While Audi is not making its own battery cells, they are making the battery modules and packs important parts of their production.

Dr. Christian Allmann, a battery specialist in Günter’s team explains:

“One of the new aspects of the electric SUV is the full integration of the battery into the load-bearing structure of the vehicle floorpan. This means an extremely high degree of safety in the design, and a level of precision in battery assembly with which we’re setting new benchmarks.”

His colleague Markus Flucke added: “We had to develop a whole series of new production technologies, all the way to automatic setting of the cell module into its mounts.”

The e-tron quattro features the skateboard-like chassis design with the battery pack between the axles – something that has virtually become a standard for electric vehicles.

Audi explains the transition of the plant from the A1 production line to the quattro:

“Before production of the new SUV ramps up in Brussels – parallel to the run-down of the Audi A1, the successor to which will be built in Martorell, Spain – static reinforcement is required to the upper level, along with step-by-step restructuring of the assembly line. The old line is giving way to a combination of an electrically driven suspended track and height-adjustable push-skids, split into a little more than 150 workstations.”

As we previously reported, the Audi e-tron quattro is expected to be the first in a series of new all-electric vehicles coming in the next few years from German premium vehicle automakers, like Porsche, Mercedes, and BMW.

The vehicle is expected to feature a “310 miles of range” on a 95 kWh battery pack, but Audi usually uses NEDC rating for electric vehicle range. Therefore, real-world range or the EPA estimate should be closer to ~275 miles.

Audi appears to be investing heavily in the production of the vehicle. While there’s no volume announced yet, we don’t expect it to be a compliance car.

Pricing and final timing information for the release are expected by the end of the year.

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