Audi Approved for $3.3 Billion EV Factory in China

audi approved for 3 3 billion ev factory in china

Audi and FAW Group, the state-owned partner it is effectively required to have in order to preferential treatment from the Communist Party of China, received some good news this week. Government officials have approved the duo for a new, jointly operated production facility in Changchun.

With Volkswagen Group having shifted its focus toward China in recent years, the market has become all-important for the German company. VW is currently the top-selling brand for the entire region, with its Audi subsidiary typically being the highest volume premium automaker from Europe. Building in China is good optics for brands hoping to remain popular there and has the added benefit of placing manufacturing complexes closer to relevant suppliers, especially if you’re swapping to electric vehicles.

Decades of allowing foreign entities to make use of its cheap labor force and lower regulatory standards have allowed for component consolidation, paving the way for factories responsible for producing more complex items with higher margins. China now exports essential parts for most major automakers and has become the world’s largest battery exporter by far. Considering the number of companies that are keen to rebrand themselves as green, clean, purveyors of all-electric transportation, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Though it also has some downsides.

Volkswagen Group’s Chinese production ties have resulted in accusations of the company directly benefiting from slave labor. The worst of this came in 2020 after the company was chastised for having a facility in Xinjiang where the Chinese government has forcibly detained millions of Uyghurs (a primarily Muslim ethnic minority) at reeducation facilities and work camps. With VW’s foundation being steeped in the anti-Semitic policies of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), one would think the company would be extra careful not to utilize political prisoners as a source of labor. But Volkswagen actually hasn’t suffered all that much from the decision, save for some bad publicity, and has no intention of changing tactics.

“We have made it clear that we must stand by our commitment in China as a whole, and we will also stand by our commitment in Xinjiang as long as we believe that it is economically feasible,” Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, was quoted as saying by Der Spiegel in 2021.

According to Reuters, the companies will be investing a total of 20.93 billion yuan ($3.29 billion USD) for the facility. Local planning regulators have approved the groundbreaking for April of 2022 and completion is tentatively scheduled for 2024. Audi said it would ideally like to see production commence before the year was over. But the facility is already behind schedule after alleged bureaucratic hang-ups attributed to regulators.

From Reuters:

The plant will start production in December 2024 and have the capacity to manufacture 150,000 cars a year, according to the regulator. Its statement also showed the approval was given on Feb. 11, and that the venture plans to produce three electric models, including Audi’s e-tron SUV.

“The Audi FAW NEV project is an important cornerstone of Audi’s electrification strategy in China,” a Volkswagen spokesperson said, confirming the approval.

“We are consequently pushing forward the relevant works in this project. The construction of the plant is planned to start in the second quarter of 2022.”

Audi and FAW collaboratively manufacturer combustion vehicles in Changchun already. The duo signed in October of 2020 to jointly produce premium EVs in China, with the new facility representing the fruit of those efforts.

[Image: JL IMAGES/Shutterstock]

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  • Dantes_inferno Dantes_inferno on Feb 16, 2022

    The push for EVs is going to hit a road block coming very soon. Lithium is running out and it's not a matter of mining it it's just not there. Some estimates say that Lithium supplies will be depleted by 2030. Hmm, A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned something to the effect that lithium (like petroleum) is a FINITE resource.

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    • Dantes_inferno Dantes_inferno on Feb 25, 2022

      @mcs: Keep telling yourself that if it will make you feel better. The X-factor to all of this: human nature (greed, narcissism, avarice, etc.) Never underestimate the ability of humans to royally screw things up. See the current world events. As for me, I will continue to live my life and enjoy the decline.

  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Feb 16, 2022

    No issue with EVs generally. My concern is that they are essentially coal powered, since that's primarily how we are still generating electricity. They are also too costly and impractical for the lower demographics. Not many apartments dwellers in da 'hood, for example, are going to have access to a charger. So they seem to me to be somewhat of an elite virtue signaling thing at this juncture. At a minimum, you would like to see American jobs being generated by this, not further manufacturing in China. I would also like to see more development of electric semis, as low income areas tend to bear the brunt of diesel pollution related to shipping.

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    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Feb 18, 2022

      @SCE to AUX That's in the US of A. Natural gas is more convenient for power station operators, but it's more expensive than coal. That's not the case with China, assuming all those electric vehicles stay there. China is planning to build 43 new coal fired power plants. More likely, VW's expansion is looking to export many of those Chinese-made Audis throughout Asia, and possibly to the US.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?