Tesla rival Audi hits the pause button on e-tron production

Audi promotes the e-tron in front of a Tesla store in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo: Provotroll1/Twitter)

The Audi factory in Belgium paused the production of the e-tron SUV citing production issues such as a battery supply bottleneck. The production of Audi Brussels was shut down Thursday last week and is expected to last until Tuesday.

According to Audi insiders, aside from battery supply issues, there are also shortages of other parts such as rear lights for the e-tron and even sun visors, reported Belgian publication L’Echo.

The spokesperson for Audi’s plant in Brussels clarified that the production issues are not because of the coronavirus outbreak in China where global car manufacturers’ factories for car parts are located.

The factory in Brussels produces the Audi e-tron and the e-tron Sportback, the first two electric vehicles of the German carmaker under the umbrella of Volkswagen. Audi sold about 26,400 e-trons in 2019 but the company declined to give an estimate on deliveries this year, according to Bloomberg.

The current halt in production shows how traditional carmakers struggle to keep up with the pace of Tesla, the undoubted leader in the electric vehicle industry today. Unlike traditional car manufacturers, a recent teardown of the Model 3 by Nikkei Business Publications revealed that Tesla does not depend on multiple other suppliers for its parts, allowing it to push itself to the limits in terms of technologies it wants to use for its vehicles.

In January, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Deiss emphasized during a global board meeting with the company’s senior managers that they need to act fast to avoid having a similar fate as Finnish phone maker Nokia that wasn’t able to keep up with the technology. This announcement came just a couple months after Audi announced that it plans to cut 9,500 jobs through 2025, which will save it 6 billion euros and help fund its push to make electric cars.

Audi Brussels’ halt in e-tron production paints a picture of how labeled “Tesla Killers” simply don’t match the current technologies and capabilities of the electric car maker, despite having the resources for the production of petrol-powered cars. Putting car parts together to make a vehicle is one thing but they still need to catch up in other aspects such as connectivity and driver-assist systems, among other things.

Oh, of course, the killer blow can also be seen when you look at the details, too. The image of an Audi e-tron’s cockpit reminding its owner to change oil is just difficult to look at just like this one below shared by Twitter user  Georg Konjovic.

Randell Suba: A curious soul who keeps wondering how Elon Musk, Tesla, electric cars, and clean energy technologies will shape the future, or do we really need to escape to Mars.
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