After the initial €100 million investment, the Ingolstadt firm is adding a similar quantity to finish equipping the body shop, paint shop and assembly plant. One notable aspect is that plant workers are being specifically trained in electronics. Audi states that the A1 "with its next-generation electronics represents a challenge" for the plant. Is this a hint at a hybrid version? We don't know, but what is certain is that Audi will use the latest iteration of its TFSI (gasoline) and TDI (diesel) engines in the A1. Audi expects more than 100,000 A1s to roll off the assembly lines in 2010. Full press release after the jump.
One year of management responsibility for Audi Brussels – A plant with a bright future
* The Brussels plant is supporting Audi's growth strategy
* Investment of approximately € 200 million
* Audi Board Member Dr. Werner Widuckel: "An excellent opportunity and a big challenge for Audi Brussels"
* Sustainable job development
Audi is focusing on Audi Brussels with large investments. Having provided approximately € 100 million for the necessary renovation of the plant's infrastructure in the first stage, Audi is now investing the same amount in equipping the body shop, paint shop and assembly plant to produce the new A1. Series production of the compact premium vehicle will begin in Brussels in 2010. The automotive factory in Forest will thus become the exclusive producer of a model for the first time in its history. In addition to the basic version of the Audi A1, other variants are planned in the mid-term as well.
"We are making good progress. The general investment concept for Brussels will be gradually implemented right through to the startup of the A1," said Dr. Werner Widuckel, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Audi Brussels and Member of the Board of Management for Human Resources of AUDI AG, a year to the day since AUDI AG assumed management responsibility for the plant. "We are not just investing in production technology, however, but also in improving the working conditions and qualifications of our employees." The automotive plant in Forest will be transformed into a site worthy of bearing the name 'Audi' in all respects, he added.
Training measures are being used to prepare the workforce to meet the demands of the Audi Production System and group work, thereby ensuring that employees can satisfy the standards for the new A1 as soon as possible. The new model with its next-generation electronics represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the Brussels plant. "The Brussels site is assuming great responsibility with exclusive production of the A1," said Dr. Werner Widuckel. Initial training measures have begun. The first stage involves 50 employees from the Brussels plant being transferred to the Pre-Production Center in Ingolstadt over the course of the next several weeks. They will remain there for 12 months, accompanying the creation of the A1 right from the start. In addition, the best planners, trainers and experts from Ingolstadt are providing on-site support here. "This is a sign of Audi's confidence in the Brussels site," commented Dr. Werner Widuckel.
In order to be successful, however, Audi Brussels must also assume a leading competitive position in terms of cost, productivity and quality. The basis for this was established in spring 2007 through agreements with the unions and is now being consistently implemented. "Framework conditions for cooperation under the Audi umbrella were laid down in our letter of intent (LOI)," said Widuckel. Detailed negotiations on the reduction in labor costs agreed on in the LOI were completed before the summer holidays in 2007 and a resolution passed to gradually increase working time to 38 hours per week by 2009."
Talks with the unions will soon begin regarding two additional components of the letter of intent: Introduction of group work and establishment of flexible working hours on the basis of working time accounts, both of which are essential requirements to ensure that the Brussels site remains competitive. Dr. Werner Widuckel also called on the workforce to embrace further changes and wholeheartedly support modernization of the site: "Much is required of us; we cannot afford to rest on our laurels but must gain even more momentum. Many things must and will continue to change. This is the only way to safeguard productivity and quality, the only way we can work economically."
The Brussels plant is assuming exclusive production responsibility for a model for the first time in its history. The site previously played only a supporting role for the Volkswagen Group. "Good progress is being made on all levels. The trust placed in the Brussels plant and its employees is justified. Audi Brussels is performing well," said Alfons Dintner, management spokesman for Audi Brussels. The phase of personnel cutbacks is completed, he added. "We are now looking for specialists in the fields of logistics, IT and finance. That is a good signal too," said Dintner.
The Audi A1 project is now being pushed forward energetically. The responsible planners and developers are further refining the product. Other variants of the A1 are being planned. Experts foresee good market opportunities for the car, which will be produced exclusively in Brussels. Audi is determined to seize volume opportunities," said Widuckel, "and leverage them to manufacture even more than the 100,000 A1 models originally planned for Brussels." This would ensure sustainable job development for the 2,200 employees. "Our employees will produce one of the most attractive automobiles that Audi has ever developed," added Widuckel.