By on February 24, 2020

Audi has reportedly paused assembly of its all-electric e-Tron to address production issues that include battery supply bottlenecks. It’s not uncharted territory for the model. Audi had to delay the model’s launch over claimed software changes in 2018, though it was known that corporate parent Volkswagen Group was having trouble with battery supplier LG Chem at the time. Since then, the crossover’s short life has been a well-publicized series of victories and failures.

Outselling rivals like the Jaguar I-Pace by a margin of almost two to one, Audi delivered 5,369 e-Trons in the United States in 2019 despite it not being available for the full year. Competition was closer in Europe, with the Audi still moving in larger volumes. The model also received favorable crash test ratings and was awarded with the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ designation.

However, supply problems never really abated. Every few months brought a new rumor that Audi was suffering from battery shortages, possibly forcing it to idle production. A battery fire scare prompted the factory to voluntarily recall the first batch. While the impact of these issues was rarely as serious as feared, their persistent nature caused many to wonder how ready the industry actually is for the transition to EVs. 

According to a report from Bloomberg, the manufacturer has only made passing mention of supply issues, confirming that the planned shutdown will only last until Tuesday. While speculation arose that the factory in Brussels was just preparing for the sportback variant (directly above) and subsequent E-Tron GT performance sedan (below), the idle only began on Thursday. That’s precious little time to enact any factory retooling, even if it is just to prepare the mechanically similar model (which offers less headroom for rear occupants).

From Bloomberg:

Former BMW AG executive Markus Duesmann will take over as chief executive at Audi in April to accelerate restructuring efforts and try to restore the brand’s technological edge. In November, the company mapped out plans to cut roughly 15 [percent] of its German workforce by 2025 as part of a broader push to lift earnings by 6 billion euros ($6.5 billion).

The E-Tron production outtage in Brussels was earlier reported by Belgian newspaper L’Echo. LG Chem Ltd. supplies the battery cells for the model.

We shouldn’t pick on Audi more than we have to. Electrification has proven a minefield for just about every manufacturer on the planet, and the Germans certainly haven’t had it easy. Last summer, BMW executive and board member Klaus Fröhlich basically said no legitimate demand exists for EVs, calling them “overhyped” at an event where the manufacturer was supposed to announce plans to accelerate its electrification efforts ⁠— which it did. Months later it was learned that BMW was spending billions to secure battery investments with CATL and Samsung while it hunted for rare metals (necessary for battery production) in Australia and Morocco.

In February, we learned VW Group and Daimler commissioned a study into sustainable lithium mining in Chile under similar circumstances. While Daimler has denied its decision to reduce 2020 production targets for the Mercedes-Benz EQC had anything to do with supply shortages with LG Chem, the move served to delay the model’s U.S. debut by one year.

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

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31 Comments on “Report: Audi E-Tron Production Stalled Over Suspected Battery Shortage...”


  • avatar
    Fred

    Put that 2l gas engine in it and you might get me to buy it again. 6 speed manual, I’ll be right over.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “5,369 e-Trons in the United States in 2019”

    Tesla builds that many Model 3s every week.

    No Gigafactory = no market presence.

    • 0 avatar
      cprescott

      And Tesla sends 80% of those Model 3’s to a rework yard because the quality of assembly is worse than AMC from the 1970’s. It is one thing to claim you built so many if you can’t ship so many because they are poorly built. It is striking that even the ones that ship are not well built.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        cprescott: “And Tesla sends 80% of those Model 3’s to a rework yard because the quality of assembly is worse than AMC from the 1970’s”

        Really? 80% to rework? What are your sources? I’m curious.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @cprescott: Then Audi can declare victory by building a few really solid EVs that nobody buys.

        Tesla’s spotty quality is one of the reasons I didn’t buy one, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing them down a lot.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          The poor quality of Apple products doesn’t slow down their sales much either. Tesla and Apple have brand mystique to most people. To many here, branding plays 2nd fiddle to product quality.

          I completely understand the surface appeal of Apple and Tesla. It’s not until you start to question and compare do you see cracks in the surface. The cracks get bigger the more you look. The good news for Tesla is that the complexity of all cars has increased dramatically over the last 5 years (at the cost of long term quality), making Tesla’s mistakes not stand out as much as they might have in the past.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “The complexity of all cars has increased dramatically over the last 5 years”

            Citation needed. If you are thinking of turbos, DI, and CVTs, you can find all of those technologies in cars from the 1980s. If you’re thinking of infotainment, the car may be more complex to operate, but it’s not really any more complex to build or conceptualize.

            “The poor quality of Apple products”

            Citation needed. They have been the leader in reliability in both phones and computers in pretty much every survey taken in the last decade and a half. The state of that industry with respect to reliability isn’t great, but no one is doing better than Apple. That would be like saying “The poor quality of Toyota products” in the car context.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “ If you are thinking of turbos, DI, and CVTs,”

            You’ll notice those were the first cars in the junkyards, of the 80s cars still tooling around a grand total of zero of the ones I see possess any of the aforementioned technologies.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Oh come on. There were some turbos (I still see both an SVO and a Thunderbird Turbo Coupe on a weekly basis), but adoption was hardly widespread. CVT? I think maybe the Subaru Justy had one and D.I> I can’t think of any.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            As it happens, I just saw a CVT Subaru Justy pass me on the street at lunchtime today.

            They were rare in this market but widespread in kei cars.

            DI was rare in gasoline applications but widespread in diesel ones even then.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            And Apple Phones enjoy longer support via updates and patches than pretty much anything out there. The 6s from 2015 (5 years old) is still being updated and will receive iOS 13 (And I own a Pixel 4 lest you think I am a fanboi). Show my a 5 year old Android device still getting support. I believe my old Macbook pro early 2011 is still being updated. I know it still works at least as I was thinking of running a plex server off of it.

            I don’t run the phones, but to imply they are anything but a quality device is silly. They just work typically without any of the workarounds my Android handsets have. I love the stock Android experience and the phone has a great camera, but ask me about my battery life. Ask me about the string of Flagship LG devices prior to that. It ain’t no Tesla lol. Now ask me about my wife’s iPhone XR. It replaced her 7 that still worked fine and was still supported, but she liked the full screen deal and smaller size.

            The “Apple Cult” thing is old. They build solid, reliable handsets and frankly unless you are updating every couple of years at the most you are crazy from both a usability standard and a security standpoint to get anything else unless you are running a dumb phone.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I wasn’t sure if it had caught on with diesel at that point. I agree though, the only beef I have with any of that tech is CVTs and that is more of a just hating how they feel issue though reliability is a concern. Then again, I have rebuilt many normal automatics from Ford C4’s, AODs, GM TH350, 700R4 and whatever the heck that bus transmission under an FZJ80 Land Cruiser was.

            Some people aren’t happy without 150 HP single digit V8’s I suppose.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I saw a Subaru brat about 5 years ago, other than that I rarely see any Subaru’s older than 2008-09s those drop off the road fast.

            65% of what I see older than 1990 is Ford and GM BOF Trucks, SUVs, and cars and Jeeps. 25% are Toyota’s and the occasional Honda. The other 10% are Mercedes, and misc D3 crapboxes that are running on 3 cylinders and belching out tons of smoke. Oh and the occasional D100.

            The little turbo Chrysler’s are all gone, Saab’s were very heavy on the ground up until 7-8 years ago and it’s like a light switch flipped and they all disappeared. (Maybe parts availability caught up?)

            It’s getting to the point I see more restored 60’s and 70’s metal than I see 80’s vehicles (outside of course C/K trucks, F series, Suburbans and Broncos – many which still seem to be daily driven)

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Speaking of diesel I got smogged out of my truck this morning by what looked like an A3 Audi, had to be a 2016-2018 or so – it was debadged but everytime he hit the go pedal it belched out smoke like an 80s freightliner. Haven’t been behind a vehicle with noxious fumes that bad since I can’t remember when.

          • 0 avatar
            hreardon

            jkross22 –

            What in the actual heck are you on about? While Tesla’s quality issues are more or less legendary and common knowledge, Apple is quite the opposite. If anything, Apple’s attention to fit and finish makes Mercedes and BMW look like amateurs.

            People buy Tesla *in spite of* their quality flaws. Whether that purchasing trend continues is open to debate, but to compare Apple to Tesla in terms of build quality is completely off the mark.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          We have a lot of Model 3’s in my area that I see at charging stations and the panel issues seem to be gone. The paint looks good, but I don’t know about the thickness issues. I can’t tell by looking. Then again, I see plenty of worse paint jobs on other makes of cars. My Leaf has even started rusting on one of the wheel wells.

          When I get my high end 3, I’ll probably go with custom paint anyway – especially if I go for an aftermarket front-end. If I pick up a second low end one for commuter duty, I probably won’t bother and just take my chances. The commuter car will probably be a Y, although I’m seeing amazing deals on Bolts and may go that route. The mid to upper $20’s for a 258 mile range car that has to take the beating that comes from commuting is hard to resist.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            hreardon – Apple’s problems – display cables too short on laptops causing display failure during regular use, keyboard failures requiring multiple replacements of entire motherboard, lying to iphone customers regarding data recovery on damaged iphones, iphone battery problems and slowdowns…

            Many more.. not hard to find.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Ford and GM sold a ton of Mustang II’s, Pintos, Vegas and Lagunas too.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Careful with that analogy…What is Tesla’s output versus pickups alone for the big 3?

  • avatar

    I read in the news today that Germany is on the brink of recession because of Tesla. Tesla is single-handedly bringing German industry to its knees. Imagine that Tesla haters.

    ccn.com/tesla-is-slowly-pushing-germany-into-recession/

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “ccn” started out as “CryptoCoinsNews.” They are not “news,” you credulous boob. Let me give you a tip- any ass*ole can fire up a wordpress blog and call themself an “analyst.” it takes stupid people like you who believe them to give them credibility.

      that doesn’t mean they actually know what they’re talking about or have anything interesting to say.

      those idiots can safely be ignored.

      sh*t isn’t true just because you want it to be.

      • 0 avatar

        Nevertheless it is listed in Google News and for many people with cellphones Google news is the news. Only old people watch CNN and other cable news channels on TV. I do not watch TV – replaced with Youtube.

        Hating Tesla will not make it go away. Tesla is there to stay. Cannot say the same thing about ICE. It is called “progress”. Technologies change.

        For you old folks: nytimes.com/2019/12/31/business/electric-cars-germany-economy.html

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          Inside –

          Pro tip: the internal combustion engine is here to stay as well, it’s just going to be an increasingly shrinking piece of the pie. The real question is how quickly the transition occurs, and I suspect it’s going to be slower than electric advocates want.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          “Nevertheless it is listed in Google News and for many people with cellphones Google news is the news. Only old people watch CNN…”

          Young people today have access to information in a way that no other generation in the history of the world have, yet people like you are too lazy to weed through and find good sources and just go with “what pops up in my YouTube feed.”

          Good job owning every negative stereotype people have in regard to your generation. Quit being lazy and find solid sources yourself rather than letting an algorithm based on datamining your life feed you info that confirms your biases and makes you feel smart. I know though…young people LIKE YOU hate to be confronted intellectually so just go ahead and label us with some catchy hashtag or something.

          I’m off to enjoy spending my money for you see, my generation isn’t poor and has decent music as a bonus. Go be smart I guess!

          • 0 avatar

            AI is about saving time you know. It is the 21st century, people are very busy, there is no time for research regarding propaganda laden news sources and AI takes care of it. And I am not working in CIA but CIA is also using AI to extract, process data and generate report I can assure you.

          • 0 avatar

            I had this conversation with one of my kids…they go straight to snark, or to meme, but have no idea what the basic idea was in the first place, and don’t sit for the narrative to unfold.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        JimZ: what would you consider a worthy news source? Not opinion programming like evening cable “news” programming but actual news?

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    It is a sad state that I look at this…a car that was in it’s time, a ubiquitous crap box that you wouldn’t give two looks and say “wow, what a clean and attractive design”. Not so much inside, but I am hopeful that clean designs will come back as cars like this were begat from the overstyled Brougham era. I feel we are there now again, styling wise.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    LG Chem cannot say no to a battery contract. I think it’s the South Korean way. Aggressive if not necessarily truthful – out back the massed jugglers are figuring who gets batteries this week, and who gets the excuses. They cannot even keep up with supplying Audi. Perhaps that Lucid crowd who signed up with LG Chem (in an article above) expect a steady supply. Seems a tad unlikely. LG Chem also supply GM and VW — sometimes. And goodness knows who else, probably Tesla in China along with CATL. Well, lookee here, they also supply Jaguar, and Mercedes who cannot get enough to launch the EQC in the USA.

    I’d say anyone who signed up with LG Chem for EV batteries did so on a wing and a prayer and got fed a story.

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • avatar

    Part of the problem, is cost. Want a Q4 ? $650 a month. Want an e-tron ? $1300 per month. That’s a lot of gas and even for the upper middle cohort, this is money. Tesla never came out with that mass market car, and the Chevy Bolt, closer in price, gives you econo-car interior at a 45k price point. Batteries have to get cheaper to make this work.
    We may care about the how and what, but the mass market cares about most car for least money, and the rest is frippery….it’s fun to shop at the Benz/BMW/Audi store, but that’s not the reality for 95% of the car buying market.

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