The Brussels Motor Show approaches at a rapid pace, and in the coming weeks the car world is receiving the automotive media community to have a look at the new year and the models it will exhibit at the show.
Nissan Belux was the first to hold its annual reception, and also took the occasion to present the new Juke.
Indeed, an extra zest of sportiness is added to the already iconic Audi e-tron. The Sportback version looks and is more dynamic, as it offers up to 300 kW of power and a range of up to 446 kilometers (277.1 miles). A new feature, and for the first offered on a in a mass-production vehicle, are its digital matrix LED headlights.
This was also clearly visible at the Los Angeles presentation of this elegant SUV Coupé, where the rakish and elegant contours of the Sportback were lit by an array of LED headlights in the background, and mounted on a robot alongside the car.
Just read on for more details…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The Audi e-tron Sportback looks very good in the typical Audi design language. The roof drops down steeply to the rear—in typical coupé style— and is flowing into the steeply raked D-pillars. The lower edge of the third side window rises towards the rear—also a typical Sportback feature.
The designers also varied the signature at the broad diffuser, drawing attention to the absence of exhaust tailpipes. A light strip connects the LED lights to one another.
Announcing even more colour…
A total of thirteen paint finishes are available for the all-electric drive SUV coupé, including the new colour plasma blue, metallic, which is exclusive to the e-tron Sportback. The logo on the electric charging flap features the eye-catching high-voltage signal colour orange, which can also be applied to the brake callipers on request.
The S line model emphasizes the sporting
DNA of the Audi e-tron Sportback, and is standard equipped with 20-inch wheels
and sport air suspension. At the rear end, the spoiler as well as a striking
diffuser which extends across the entire vehicle width, contributes to the
outstanding vehicle aerodynamics. In contrast to the basic model, the
attachments on the S line exterior are painted in the exterior body colour –
including the wheel arch trims, door sills, bumpers and exterior mirrors.
For those who want more contrast, Audi also
offers the so-called black styling package that accentuates the area of the
Singleframe, the side windows, and the bumper. The exterior mirror housings are
also available in black as an option.
A drag coefficient of merely 0.25…
In conjunction with the S line exterior and virtual exterior mirrors, the Sportback achieves an drag coefficient value of just 0.25. This is primarily due to the coupé body shape and the associated lower aerodynamic drag behind the car. The high separating edge of the Sportback minimizes swirl in the air flow in this area.
Global innovation in a production vehicle: The digital matrix LED headlights
With the digital matrix LED headlights as top-of-the range equipment, Audi presents a worldwide first in a production vehicle: Broken down into minute pixels, their light can illuminate the road in high resolution. The design is based on a technology abbreviated as DMD (digital micromirror device) and is also used in many video projectors.
At its heart is a small chip containing one
million micromirrors, each of whose edge length measures just a few hundredths of
a millimeter. With the help of electrostatic fields, each individual
micromirror can be tilted up to 5,000 times per second. Depending on the
setting, the LED light is either directed via the lenses onto the road or is
absorbed in order to mask out areas of the light beam.
Revolution ahead: just follow the light…
These LED lights will be seen on the e-tron Sportback mid 2020, and they can perform multiple tasks. It can generate dynamic leaving- and coming-home animations that appear as projections on a wall or on the ground. This presentation transforms the area in front of the car into a carefully illuminated stage. Not only does the digital light system deliver cornering, city, and highway lighting as versions of the low-beam light with exceptional precision, it also supplements the high-beam light by masking out other road users with even greater accuracy.
Above all, however, it offers innovative
functions such as lane light and orientation light. On freeways, the lane light
creates a carpet of light that illuminates the driver’s own lane brightly and
adjusts dynamically when he or she changes lane.
In this way, it improves the driver’s
awareness of the relevant lane and contributes to improved road safety. In addition,
the orientation light uses darkened areas masked out from the light beam to predictively
show the vehicle’s position in the lane, thereby supporting—especially on
narrow roads or in highway construction zones—the safe lane centering assist.
The marking light function is also used in conjunction with the optional night vision assist. The light automatically draws attention to any pedestrians it detects, thereby reducing the danger of overlooking pedestrians in the immediate vicinity of the lane.
On the second part of this report, we will
tell you more about the dynamic qualities, the drivetrain, i.e. batteries and
engines, interior and connectivity of this e-tron Sportback…
On May 1, Audi opened the doors of a three month pop-up “The Place To-e” at Desguinlei 100 in the heart of Antwerp. Until the end of July car fans and cosmopolitans can enjoy themselves in the e-scape room, discover electric mobility, enjoy a culinary spectacle at the rolling table and discover a hidden part of Antwerp in the rooftop bar ONTOP. Visitors can also book a test drive with the Belgian-tinted Audi e-tron; as you already know, it is built at Audi Brussels…
We made a visit last weekend, and were
impressed! Of course we also took the occasion to make a test drive with the impressive
e-tron. More about this in the next report…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The demand for viable and sustainable mobility solutions will only grow in the future in and around major cities. D’Ieteren, the importer of Audi, chose Antwerp for this pop-up “Place to be”- a city that is strongly committed to new, environmentally friendly mobility. “All with the purpose to better inform the general public and make them enthusiastic about electric mobility by offering a range of experiences and activities, ”explained Stefan Kerckhoven from, Director Audi Import.
It is all about living the “e”-adventure
Experience is central to The Place To -e. Adventurous visitors can have a go in the “e-scape room” with an area of 80m², where players can help free the imprisoned engineer of the Audi e-tron while discovering electric mobility in a playful way.
The Audi e-tron and its optional virtual exterior mirrors are an essential key in the ultimate solution to the adventurous puzzle. A lot of attention was paid to the use of technology: holograms, interactive projections, mechanical installations … elements that we have not seen so often in an escape room. For nearly an hour, the participants puzzle, where they must use logic to solve the various riddles and go through a series of tests; only then will they be able to solve the mystery.
A changing exhibition will introduce the public to future electric Audi models in their concept form, including the Audi PB18 e-tron you see here above, an electric high-performance sports car which will be on display and the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo developed from a racing game.
In the e-arena, esporters can play the
“Rocket League” virtual racing football game on a real field. In this
game, participants control an electric car developed for the occasion and try
to score goals on a kind of soccer field.
A test drive is offered…
Electric driving can best be experienced during a test drive. The Audi e-tron is equipped with an ingenious recovery system that contributes 30 percent to the driving range of the Audi e-tron. Visitors can test this energy recuperation themselves during a test drive along a predefined test route, of course we took the occasion to put the e-tron briefly through its paces…
To have a chance to win a weekend with the Audi e-tron, and to preserve an unforgettable memory of his visit, every visitor is invited to take a nice photo in the sofa of Smile Safari, the very first Instagram museum in Belgium.
The visitor can then satisfy his hunger in an original way during a unique private dining concept and scoop in Belgium, where a culinary top experience literally comes to the guests via a … rolling table. Each dish is presented in its own decor and to stay completely in the theme is consciously worked with sustainable ingredients.
You can end the interactive day at the
beautiful rooftop bar ONTOP on the roof terrace where you can enjoy a unique
The Place To -e will be a meeting place in the coming three months where there is always something going on. In addition to the wide range of daily experiences, special events and interesting expert talks on topics such as fashion, styling, design, sustainable travel, urban mobility and technology will also be organized.
Last but not least the visitors can come and admire the Magnum photo exhibition: a breathtaking series of photos from the renowned agency Magnum Photos that was allowed to shoot images for five days at the Audi Brussels factory.
The two renowned photographers Paolo Pellegrin and Gueorgui Pinkhassov captured the power and elegance of robots and the dedication and passion of the factory employees in an intriguing way. In the photo series the innovation, quality and attention to detail come to the fore that also characterize the technology of the Audi e-tron.
Audi and Antwerp: together in sustainable mobility
The Place To -e also includes e-lectrify & mobility: an exhibition displaying the vision of sustainable urban mobility of Audi, the city of Antwerp, and their partners of “Antwerp tomorrow” and “Smart to Antwerp” such as Poppy , Scooty and Velo.
Some practical information:
Opening hours: every Thursday and Friday from 12 h to 20 h and each Saturday and Sunday from 10 h tot 18 h.
Toyota surprised us all this week with a very responsable and admirable move. It announced this week that it will grant royalty-free licenses on nearly 24,000 patents it holds (including some pending applications) for vehicle electrification-related technologies. Considering the amount of time, money and resources needed to develop sustainable mobility to help combat rising emissions and continuing to utilize currently available technology, Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) announced this measure related to its patents and technical knowledge to further promote the widespread use of electrified vehicles.
But that is not all. Toyota will as a
second, also most important measure provide fee-based technical support to
other manufacturers developing and selling electrified vehicles when they use
Toyota’s motors, batteries, PCUs, control ECUs, and other vehicle
electrification system technologies as part of their powertrain systems.
Ultimately, by granting royalty-free patents and providing technical support on its vehicle electrification systems, Toyota aims to help further promote the widespread use of electrified vehicles, and in so doing, help governments, automakers, and society at large accomplish goals related to climate change.
More specifically, the patents included are
for parts and systems, such as electric motors, power control units (PCUs), and
system controls. These are core technologies that can be applied to the
development of various types of electrified vehicles including HEVs, plug-in
hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).
Together, Toyota will offer approximately 23,740 patents awarded over more than
20 years of electrified vehicle technology development. The grant period will
start immediately and last through the end of 2030. Contracts for the grants
may be issued by contacting Toyota and discussing specific licensing terms and
Brave new world, and Toyota is setting
(also) the pace… The company will continue the development and
diversification of electrified vehicles as it now turns its sights to include
the mass production of battery electric vehicles from 2020, starting in China
and India, followed by Japan, the United States and Europe.
The efforts to improve and increase the
diversity of electrified power train options is tied directly to Toyota’s
‘Environmental Challenge 2050’, wherein the company aims to achieve annual
electrified vehicle sales of 5.5 million units by 2030, as announced in
December 2017. To achieve its goal, Toyota unveiled plans to have 10 BEV models
available worldwide by the early 2020s, and from around 2025, the company aims
to have an electrified version available for all vehicle models across its
global lineup. Granting royalty-free patents and providing technical support is
an important additional step…which can only be applauded.
Audi Brussels has undergone a total transformation over the last three years in becoming the production site for the Audi e-tron 55 Quattro, and you can read more about this plant in our columns here.
At the helm of this rebirth stood Patrick Danau, and with his team he made the factory in the heart of Europe into a leading plant for electric mobility. This was his final challenge and crown on his long and successful career, as he celebrated his retirement last week.
The graduate engineer had known the
Brussels plant since 1978, when he began his career in the assembly section of
the former VW plant in Brussels. After numerous positions in Group companies
around the world, Danau found his way back to Brussels in 2014, where he worked
for the past five years as General Director for Production, Technology and
Logistics and Spokesperson of the Management. “For me, my professional life has
come full circle: I am now ending my career where everything started for me
more than 40 years ago. I could not have imagined a better conclusion at the
end of my career than the production of the Audi e-tron.”
A new director with a vast international experience, spanning from Brazil to China…
Volker Germann is now the new managing
director at Audi Brussels. Within the executive board of Audi Brussels, Volker
Germann will hold the positions of General Director for Production, Technology
and Logistics and Spokesperson of the Management.
“With Volker Germann, a proven production
expert with great international experience has come to the Brussels site. We
are delighted that we have been able to gain him for this task,” says Peter
Kössler, Chairman of the Administrative Board of Audi Brussels and Member of
the Board of Management for Production and Logistics at AUDI AG.
Germann has been working successfully for
the Volkswagen Group and Audi for many years. He has a acquired a vast
international experience. He graduated in engineering at the College of
Technology in Mannheim and began his career in 1986 as an employee in central
planning for painting and assembly at VW. But in 2009 already, the distant
horizons called, and he became managing director at VW do Brasil in Curitiba.
In 2016, Volker Germann became managing director of the FAW-Volkswagen joint
venture in Changchun, China. The Audi A4 L, Audi A6 L, Audi A6 L e-tron, Audi
Q3 and Audi Q5 L model series are built for the Chinese market in that city, which
has a population of approximately seven million.
Germann is now looking forward to the new
professional challenge in the European capital: “The Brussels plant is
currently carrying out one of the most important ramp-ups at Audi. Under the
leadership of Patrick Danau, the factory has prepared itself optimally for this
task. I am happy to be able to help shape the dawn of the age of e-mobility and
the production of vehicles with completely new drive technology. I am now part
of the team that is putting the Audi e-tron on the road with great passion and
When talking about the production of the impressive Audi e-tron on the Brussels site, the batteries are an intriguing part of the driveline. We take a closer look at it here, and show you some very interesting drawings provided by Audi Media…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The large lithium-ion battery in the Audi e-tron provides for a range of more than 400 kilometers (248.5 mi) in the WLTP driving cycle. The battery operates with a nominal voltage of 396 volts and stores 95 kWh of energy.
The battery system in the Audi e-tron is located beneath the cabin and is 2.28 meters (7.5 ft) long, 1.63 meters (5.3 ft) wide and 34 centimeters (13.4 in) high. It comprises a total of 36 cell modules in square aluminum housings, each of which is roughly the size of a shoe box. They are arranged on two levels, known as “floors” – a longer lower floor and a shorter upper one. At market launch, each module is equipped with twelve pouch cells having a flexible outer skin of aluminum-coated polymer. In the future, Audi will use both technically equivalent prismatic cells in its modular concept, also in terms of a multiple supplier strategy.
The cell modules in the Audi e-tron can reproducibly discharge and charge electricity over a broad temperature and charge status window. The can be densely packed to achieve a very high output and energy density in the volume available.
A cooling system of flat aluminum extruded sections divided uniformly into small chambers has the task of maintaining the battery’s high-performance operation over the long term. Heat is exchanged between the cells and the cooling system beneath them via a thermally conductive gel pressed beneath each cell module. In what is a particularly efficient solution, the gel evenly transfers the waste heat to the coolant via the battery housing. The cooling system is first fixed to the bottom of the battery tray with adhesive. To protect the cooling system against stone and road debris, a base plate is installed, also to improve aerodynamics. At assembly, first the batteries/modules on both floors are placed into their locations, then the gel (also called gapfiller) is applied.
The battery and all of its parameters, such as charge status, power output and thermal management, is managed by the external battery management controller (BMC). This is located in the occupant cell on the right A-pillar of the Audi e-tron.
The BMC communicates both with the control units of the electric motors and the cell module controllers (CMC), each of which monitors the current, voltage and temperature of the modules, 3 modules at the time. In the whole battery system, therefore 12 CMC’s are present. The battery junction box (BJB), into which the high-voltage relays and fuses are integrated, is the electrical interface to the vehicle. Enclosed in a die-cast aluminum housing, it is located in the front section of the battery system. Data exchange between the BMC, the CMCs and the BJB is via a separate bus system.
Sophisticated measures have been taken to protect the high-voltage battery of the Audi e-tron. A strong enclosing frame of cast aluminum nodes and extruded sections, plus an aluminum plate 3.5 millimeters (0.1 in) thick protect against damage from accidents or curbs. Inside, a framework-like aluminum structure reinforces the battery system. Also comprised of extruded sections, it holds the cell modules like a typecase.
Including the housing with its
sophisticated crash structures comprising 47 percent extruded aluminum
sections, 36 percent aluminum sheet and 17 percent diecast aluminum parts, the
battery system weighs around 700 kilograms (1,543.2 lb). It is bolted to the
body structure of the Audi e-tron at 35 points. This increases its torsional
rigidity by 27 percent and contributes to the high level of the safety of the
Audi e-tron, as does the cooling system bonded to the outside of the battery housing.
Compared to a conventional SUV, the Audi e-tron offers 45 percent higher
torsional rigidity, a key parameter for precise handling and acoustic
During production and assembly, utmost care
is taken that screws which fix the modules into place do not cause insulation
faults, and before the battery unit is cleared for further assembly, the
differences in voltage between the cells and the modules are carefully
controlled that it meets Audi Premium Standards. Finally leak tests are also
carried out, both on the cooling system and the battery. Not less than 8 final
tests are performed, before the battery is then partially (re)charged and fit
for further assembly in the car.
Your servant will soon be your regular guide at the Brussels Audi site where the formidable Audi e-tron 55 quattro rolls of the production line. I will explain you in four languages, English, German, French and Dutch in a 2,5 hour factory tour all you want to know about the production of this formidable all-electric car. Soon you can start booking me (and my colleagues) on this tour, I will keep you posted when registration starts.
But in the meantime, in these columns I tell you already somewhat more about the Brussels factory; In further reports I tell you somewhat more about the Audi production techniques building the big Audi e-tron.
Of course, this series about the ins and
outs of Audi e-tron production is also an occasion to start with a regular
column about car factories of different brands and the way they build their cars.
So stay posted!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
In Brussels, the e-future has begun…
Since fall 2018, Audi Brussels has been
producing the first fully electric SUV from the brand with the four rings exclusively
for the world market. Actually, volume production of the Audi e-tron began on
September 3, 2018. Designing and producing the e-tron led Audi to establish numerous
in house competencies and it indeed has developed both the battery technology and
the drive by itself.
Also the Brussels factory was on a learning curve. The employees in Brussels received a total of over 200,000 hours of training to build the first fully electric Audi. Employees have replanned and implemented many production steps in production. Since summer 2016, the plant has comprehensively remodeled the body shop, paint shop and assembly shop step by step and has established its own battery manufacturing facility. With the intention of developing the Brussels plant further into a key component of the Audi production network, Audi has optimized the plant’s processes in accordance with the Audi Production System (APS).
Major features of the APS are group work and continuous improvement processes. To improve the process chains, Audi has closely integrated the external suppliers and service providers into the production process. Short throughput times in production, low inventories and a high proportion of added value are the objectives on which Audi Brussels focuses.
In addition to a body shop, assembly shop and paint shop, Audi Brussels also has a modern Analysis and Pre-Series Center. This links the areas of Production and Technical Development, ensuring the high quality of the Audi e-tron.
The Brussels site also has its own battery manufacturing
facility to support production of the battery-electric SUV. This makes it the key
plant for electric mobility within the Audi Group
The Brussels plant is the first in the world with certified carbon-neutral volume production in the premium segment. Audi Brussels compensates for all emissions that occur during production and at the location. This takes place predominantly through renewable energy but also through environmental projects. At Audi, environmental protection is part of the corporate strategy. This applies to technology as well as to the production processes.
The most stringent of environmental
standards are applied at the Audi Brussels site. In 2013, the Brussels region
recognized the plant as an “eco-dynamic company” – a regional environmental
certification that is awarded every three years. Audi Brussels was awarded the
highest rating of three stars. Since 2001, the Brussels site has also been
certified according to the environmental audit of the European Commission
(EMAS: Eco-Management and Audit Scheme). Audi Brussels installed a photovoltaic
system with a total area of 37,000 square meters at the site. As a result, Audi
Brussels operates the largest photovoltaic system in Brussels and generates
more than 3,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year and saves around 700
metric tons of CO2.
In late 2016, the plant received the
Business Award from the weekly magazine Trends. Audi Brussels was chosen as
Belgium’s most ecological company. The production of the first electric car of
the Audi brand will be carbon-neutral from the start of production in the
Brussels plant. To achieve this, Audi Brussels will procure green electricity
and purchase biogas certificates to make its heat-generation activities carbon neutral.
There are also compensation projects for emissions produced in part by the
company’s own fleet. Independent experts have certified the carbon-neutrality.
…and a bit of history
On August 1, 2018, the last Audi A1 of the first generation rolled off production line in Brussels. Since May 2010, a total of just under 910,000 units of the Audi A1 have been produced in Brussels. The successor model to the Audi A1 is now built in Martorell, Spain.
The plant in Brussels will turn 70 this
year. On April 7, 1949, the first vehicle rolled off the production line there.
The Audi A1 was the first model in the plant’s 70-year history to be produced
exclusively in the European capital. Before the plant was taken over by AUDI AG
in 2007, it had belonged to Volkswagen AG since 1970, producing various models
of the Volkswagen Group. Since belonging to AUDI AG, the Brussels facility has
assumed an important role in the Audi Group, and it now employs around 3,000
people. The start of production of the Audi A1 in 2010 marked the beginning of
a new era. Audi Brussels expanded its production in 2011 with the addition of
the Audi A1 Sportback and in 2014 with the Audi S1 and Audi S1 Sportback. In
2012, Audi Brussels produced the Audi A1 quattro as a special limited edition
Dual learning and focus on employees…
Audi Brussels cooperates closely with the
trade unions. In a letter of intent from 2007, management and the trade unions
jointly defined the framework conditions for good cooperation. One important
component is the working time account system used at Audi Brussels since 2010.
It offers the company and its employees much more flexibility. Audi Brussels
awarded with the title of “Top Employer” for the fourth time in a row.
Audi also invests in education and training. Dual education allows the students of the two partner schools to complete part of their training on location at the company. Here, Audi Brussels cooperates with the Flemish school “GO! TA Halle” and the francophone school “Don Bosco Woluwé Saint-Pierre.” The project gives students the opportunity to gain more practical experience during their training. Another goal is to convince more young people in Belgium to choose an attractive technical apprenticeship.
Audi Brussels currently employs 2,756 employees (as of December 31, 2018), Of these employees, 940 work in production-related areas, while 1,816 employees work directly in production. With an average age of 44.7 years, the employees have worked an average of 18.6 years at Audi Brussels. The three working languages are French, Dutch and German. In December, Audi Brussels was awarded the “Diversity Label 2018” of the Brussels-Capital Region. The award, which was started in 2008 by the Brussels employment office supports companies in the fight against discrimination. To obtain the Label, Audi Brussels developed a “diversity plan” and implemented it.
Audi Brussels focuses on the employees,
which the plant’s own health center shows. It offers a prevention program for
the entire workforce: the Audi Check-Up. Experienced nurses and doctors work to
maintain and improve the employees’ health and help to recognize any risk factors
at an early stage and to counteract them.
Excellent logistiscs are the key to success…
Automotive Park logistics and supplier
center Automotive Park, the state-of-the-art logistics and supplier center, is
connected with the assembly shops by a 450 meter long bridge. It provides the
infrastructure for efficient processes in the supply of materials to the
Brussels plant. Every day, trucks and trains deliver 5,000 parts and components
from 457 suppliers. Due to the close integration of external suppliers with the
plant’s internal logistics processes, productivity is further boosted on a
As said, in the next reports I will tell
you more about the actual production techniques and processes of the Audi
e-tron. Stay tuned!