German automobile giant Audi AG says it will cut 9,500 jobs at German factories over the next five years in a move intended to lift earnings by €6 billion ($A9.75 billion) which it says will, in turn, support the company’s shift to electrification and digitalisation.
At the same time, however, Audi Australia has confirmed the launch timing for its e-tron and e-tron Sportback models, both of which will be available in the second half of 2020 in advance of an avalanche of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles expected to land on Australia’s shores by 2025.
Audi announced this week that its Board of Management and employee representatives had reached “a fundamental agreement” regarding the “optimization of production capacities at the two German plants and socially responsible workforce adjustments while extending job guarantee up to the end of 2029.”
This agreement didn’t prevent the company from also announcing that it would cut up to 9,500 jobs between now and 2025 in an effort to “become lean and fit for the future,” in the words of Wendelin Göbel, Board of Management Member for Human Resources.
The job cuts “will take place along the demographic curve – in particular through employee turnover and a new, attractive early-retirement program,” Göbel explained.
“An equivalent percentage staff reduction will take place in management.”
“We have reached an important milestone: The jobs of our core workforce are secure!” added Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council of AUDI AG.
“The extension of the employment guarantee is a great success in difficult times. In addition, the upcoming electrification of the Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm plants underscores the long-term success of both German sites. Important for our co-workers: The Audi profit sharing remains at its high level.”
These employment decisions, however, are all in service of the company’s plans to increase its earnings by €6 billion ($A9.75 billion) so as to better prepare itself for the transition to electric vehicles.
In particular, efforts are being made to future-proof production at two German facilities, Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, which will be expected to yield production capacity of 450,000 and 225,000 vehicles respectively.
These new announcements are all part of the Audi’s Transformation Plan, launched two years ago, which the company expects will free up approximately €15 billion ($A24 billion) for future projects through to 2022.
“The decisions taken together with the employees are an important and courageous step for the long-term competitiveness and profitability of the Four Rings,” said Audi CEO Bram Schot.
While all of this is going on, however, Audi Australia’s corporate communications manager, Shaun Cleary, confirmed to CarsGuide this week that the company will be launching its e-tron and e-tron Sportback models in the second half of 2022.
“They’re our focus because they demonstrate how well Audi can do an EV, and it’s a very significant step for us,” said Cleary.
“The A6, Q5 and other models are already in the hybrid space, and there have been a number of plug-in hybrid models Audi has shown globally. It’s inevitable we’ll bring those to Australia.”
The Audi e-tron was unveiled last year, and the Audi e-tron Sportback was unveiled earlier this month – the latter four-door, all-electric SUV boasting 300 kW of power and a range of up to 446 kilometres from a single battery charge.
Audi’s Sean Cleary also confirmed to CarsGuide that the company is gearing up to launch a raft of 20 new all-electric vehicles and 10 plug-in hybrid models which are expected to land on Australian shores by 2025.