Friction in Audi where the new CEO would have reversed the electrification strategy of his predecessor, attracting the dislike of the brand's managers. Meanwhile, Volkswagen is still slowing down the production of electric cars
Even though two totally electric Volkswagen cars, ID.3 Pro Performance, have just crossed the borders of the Vatican State with great fanfare to be delivered to Pope Francis , in recent weeks there have been signs that the Group, a staunch supporter of EV cars, has seeing their faith in the new technology fade, they continued to multiply . In all of this, the coughs that come from the engine that drives the German automotive industry cannot be missed, with some of the main players in the market having already launched (or are about to launch) heavy staff cuts.
EV CARS, SLOWDOWNS IN VOLKSWAGEN AND THOUGHTS IN AUDI
Among the clues that seem to suggest that the recent collapse in sales of electric cars is pushing the Volkswagen Group to be more cautious in the race for the ecological transition are some news reported in the last few hours by the German economic newspaper Handelsblatt , according to whose sources Audi has decided to postpone the launch of not only the Q6, but also several other models in the e-tron family.
In short, the Ingolstadt company would prefer to wait for better times for the debut of the A6 and for the heir to the current Q8 e-tron. For once, behind the postponements there would not be dissatisfaction with the work in the Cariad software unit, but very specific industrial choices that would go in the opposite direction of previous industrial plans.
THE TURNING DESIRED BY THE NEW CEO
Moreover, the Volkswagen Group did not only have to deal with the change between Herbert Diess (a true radical of the green transition, so much so that he was willing to fire 30 thousand employees in order to support the uneconomic costs) and Oliver Blum (much more lukewarm on the matter, also due to its origin from a super sports brand like Porsche) but also had to deal with the handover from Markus Duesmann to Gernot Döllner , the latter very close to the current CEO of the group and therefore presumably equally skeptical about the need to impose burdensome accelerations for the brand towards new mobility.
According to the German media, Döllner expressed his dissatisfaction with the projects inherited from his predecessor and demanded "rapid changes". If not a real 'U-turn', then a vigorous swerve capable of creating a perpetually "conflictual" state with Audio managers.
The CEO, however, intends to carry on, also because he would enjoy the full trust of Blum and would be imposing a "complete redesign" of the strategy even at the cost of causing "significant delays" to what remains of the plans wanted to pursue at all costs Duesmann according to which , truly ambitiously, from 2024 to the end of 2025, the German brand was supposed to launch around ten electric cars.
AUDI'S NEW ELECTRIC STRATEGIES
The Q6 e-tron will therefore not be revealed this year, but only next March, while the commercial launch will most likely take place at the beginning of the summer of 2024. For the Handelsblatt the A6 e-tron, which should be presented in March 2024, would be destined to be postponed to the beginning of the summer, while the project for the Q8 e-tron scheduled for 2026 would have been shelved, perhaps even cancelled, with the intention of making the electric SUV the basis also for the next Volkswagen Atlas model, the first fully electric, which however will only be marketed in the United States and China.
VOLKSWAGEN CUTS SHIFTS
Meanwhile, the Group continues to slow down electric production: the company management and the works council of Zwickau, the fulcrum plant of Volkswagen's electric strategy (which, let's not forget, also includes Audi, Seat, Škoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ducati, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania and Man) have agreed to reduce the work shifts in pavilion 5 from three to two, the department that produces the ID.3 and Born, the two reference battery-powered cars for the Vw and Cupra.
WHAT IS PRODUCED IN ZWICKAU
In the plant, recently refurbished following a huge investment of 1.2 billion, the over 10 thousand workers on the assembly line assemble electric cars for the entire Group: not just the Volkswagen ID.3, ID.4, ID.5, but also the Audi Q4 e-tron and Sportback e-tron, the Cupra Born and the bodies of the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus. Following the shift review, the two production lines will work on two rotations with any extraordinary shifts to be established based on the trend of demand.
FROM AUDI TO VOLKSWAGEN, DO ELECTRIC CARS ELECTRIZE LESS?
As reported by Start Magazine on several occasions, in recent months Zwickau's production activities have been suspended several times and for several weeks due to the slowdown in electrical orders or due to unspecified "shortage of supplies". Currently only one of the two assembly lines is in operation in the latest generation gigafactory.
It should not be forgotten that, at the end of the summer, Volkswagen did not renew hundreds of expiring fixed-term contracts while, as part of a spending review, it intended to proceed with the dismissal of 20% of the administrative staff in an attempt to follow up on the ambitious plan to reduce costs of 10 billion euros by 2026 revealed by German newspapers.
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/smartcity/volkswagen-inchioda-auto-elettriche/ on Sun, 19 Nov 2023 06:01:21 +0000.