Audi, partner SAIC to develop China-specific EV platform

BEIJING, (Reuters) – Volkswagen premium brand Audi said on Monday it would jointly develop a new China-specific platform for intelligent and electric vehicles with its Chinese joint venture partner SAIC.

The move, coming about 10 months after VW’s landmark Chinese partnership deal, highlights mounting pressure on western brands and legacy automakers to rejig to survive an intensifying EV race in the world’s largest auto market.

Audi has lagged far behind Tesla and other Chinese rivals in EV sales amid a protracted EV price war.

Audi and SAIC will develop models built on new architecture called the Advanced Digitized Platform, which “enables Audi to significantly reduce time-to-market by more than 30%,” the Germany legacy marque said in a statement.

The first of three EV models to run on the new platform is expected to hit the market in 2025, according to the statement.

The announcement shed light on plans for further cooperation between Audi and SAIC that VW announced in July when it said it would buy 4.99% of Xpeng for around $700 million along with plans to jointly launch two Volkswagen-branded EV models by 2026.

In another example of Europe’s growing reliance on Chinese expertise in EVs, Franco-Italian automaker Stellantis said earlier this month its venture with Chinese partner Leapmotor would start selling two Leapmotor models in Europe from September.

Audi has used VW’s EV-dedicated MEB platform for two EV models in China, Q4 e-tron and Q5 e-tron, through its two ventures, one with SAIC and another with FAW, while concurrently developing a new EV platform with Porsche.

Audi will start making the first EV built based on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture developed by its headquarters from 2025 at the earliest in China at its joint venture with FAW (SASACJ.UL).

Reuters reported previously that the Audi Q6L e-tron will be equipped with Huawei’s advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) in China.

Sales of Audi’s two EV models on offer in China totalled 6,420 in the first four months, accounting for 0.45% of total EV sales, per Reuters’ calculations based on data from the China Passenger Car Association and ByteDance’s car information platform Dongchedi.

Reporting by Qiaoyi Li, Zhang Yan and Miyoung Kim; Editing by Tom Hogue and Bernadette Baum