Brussels to become Audi’s new series electromobility hub
Transition implies a certain amount of change. This certainly applies to the latest developments in mobility, which is undergoing nothing short of a revolutionary transformation. The game changer: alternative drive systems and the latest technology which is already enabling automated and autonomous driving – to a degree which is set to increase. This transformation is becoming steadily more tangible.
Audi’s latest series models and new concept vehicles are already out and about, announcing the future, but this transformation applies not only to Audi’s various vehicles. It also applies to other areas including production, such as at our Brussels plant. The process of change is already clearly evident at the Belgian capital, where Audi’s focus from now on will be on electromobility. What this means is that the factory in the borough of Forest, situated in the south-west of the city, will be responsible for manufacturing Audi’s first ever fully electric series model. That is the reason why, in recent years, conversion work has been initiated in the bodywork, paintshop and assembly areas. A new battery production facility has also been built on the plant premises.
Smart production line
“Bei Audi entsteht die Mobilität der Zukunft, und das Werk in Brüssel spielt dabei eine tragende Rolle.”
This means that the production of batteries and vehicle bodies can take place simultaneously on the two-kilometre long production line, an arrangement now referred to as ‘just in sequence’. The finished battery system is transported into ‘chassis preassembly’. After that, everything happens one step after another: the first large subassembly to be fitted to the workpiece holder is the front axle, which is already bolted to the front electric motor and its gearbox and power electronics. The next step is to lay the high-voltage cables and connections for coolant lines. Finally, the rear axle and remaining electric motors are fitted. Once the technical and drive units are complete, they are wedded electrically, a process which is fully automated at the Brussels factory, as are many other stages in production in the battery production and bodywork areas, most of which work is performed by machines at this location. As the final assembly process continues, this fully electric series model receives its charging equipment and connections. Controllers are supplied with data and trained. The vehicle passes through a comprehensive programme on a running-in test bed which simulates every major driving situation it will later encounter. Then it is sent out to the factory’s own track for street testing.
Sustainable energy generation
As well as transforming the factory and the way fully electrically driven series vehicles are built, another key change has been made in Brussels: sustainable energy generation that supplies the facilities with energy as greenly as possible. This is the reason why renewably generated hydroelectric power is used to cover energy needs. This power supply is backed up by another renewable source: the factory’s roofs are covered with the Brussels region’s biggest photovoltaic system, amounting to an area of 37,000m².
This system produces around 3,000 megawatt hours of electrical energy each year. The use of renewably produced electricity reduces annual CO₂ emissions by 14,230 tons. A sophisticated ventilation system in the paint shop also achieves a considerable reduction in energy consumption totalling 8,159 megawatt hours annually. Furthermore, a cogeneration unit is connected up to the power network. This modular unit produces two megawatts of electrical energy and uses the heat it creates to make hot water. But even after all that, the target has not yet been achieved in Brussels; there are further aims pending. Additional, innovative projects aimed at helping the environment will be rolled out in the next few years, reducing figures further still. Sustainable logistics processes are just one example.
Transformation may not be complete yet, but the factory in the Forest district of Brussels is already prepared for tomorrow’s mobility. Transformation means change. It’s a flowing process, but one which takes time – especially when it comes to complex themes like mobility.
Facts & Figures
|2010||Production launch, Audi A1|
Production launch, Audi A1 Sportback
||Production launch, Audi A1 quattro|
|2013||Commissioning of the 37.000 square metre photovoltaic system|
Production launch, Audi S1 and Audi S1 Sportback
|2016||State visit by Germany's Federal President to Belgium: on 10 March 2016, Joachim Gauck and Belgium's King Philippe I learned about the future of mobility at the Audi plant in Brussels, and about the fully electric vehicle which Audi Brussels will be producing from 2018 onwards.|
|2017||Transformation dof the factory: in-house battery production begins|
|2018||Production launch of first ever fully electric Audi series produced vehicle|