Audi puts big EV push on the back burner

Audi says it is now pulling back on what was a fairly ambitious rollout of upcoming electric vehicles in response to what its newly appointed CEO says is the EV “slowdown” and to “avoid burdening” factories and dealers.

“We first looked at what order and density of launches the organization could handle,” CEO Gernot Döllner told Bloomberg. “In the end, we decided to spread it out to not overwhelm the team and the dealerships.”

Audi, which is owned by Volkswagen, had slated 20 new models by 2026, with 10 of those being EVs. Now it will put its focus on new internal combustion and plug-in hybrid models, with some electric ones in there, but the timing will be flexible as to when that will happen.

Of course, Audi needs to release new vehicles quickly, as its lineup is “growing stale” while rivals Mercedes and BMW prep their next-gen EVs in the coming years, writes Bloomberg.  

Audi is waiting on the completion of the PPE platform, which is a new advanced chassis for EVs that has been delayed because of software problems from VW’s in-house software unit Cariad. The upcoming Q6 e-tron was supposed to kick off a handful of EVs from the brand, but that is being put on hold, although it should roll off the line next year, according to the report.

It’s been a rough few months for Audi, with Volkswagen CEO Oliver Blume saying in June that the brand has fallen short of its potential. Döllner took the helm that same month after working with Blume at Porsche in the hopes that he could boost operating return to 13% from 9%, Bloomberg writes. That same time, the VW Group announced a new cost-cutting program designed to save €10 billion ($10.8 billion) by 2026, which includes mass layoffs. The goal is to meet a return-on-sales target of 6.5%, which is up from 3.6% last year.

Electrek’s Take

Audi has long been been dragging its feet in the EV transition, due in part to its heavy lineup of diesel engines – and of course VW’s diesel-emissions scandal and ongoing software issues haven’t set it up for success. Still, it hardly inspires confidence when Döllner adds that the EV “slowdown” is good for the brand, in that it can focus on what drives its bottom line – ICE vehicles. Not that they are ruling EVs out of course, but they want to take it slow.

Regulatory shifts as governments phase out combustion cars add to the pressure, as does China’s influx of EVs, and Audi hasn’t been able to compete with the likes of Tesla and now BYD.

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