Goodbye Audi: Brand Just Killed Itself Using Chinese EV Platforms
Today SAIC Motor, the Chinese state-owned auto manufacturer, announced it is partnering with Audi to use its next-generation of EV platform. This is after reports that Audi was looking to jumpstart its future EVs with several Chinese-developed electric platforms. The only conclusion one can draw is that Audi has thrown in the towel for its ability to develop an in-house electric platform.
So, arguably the largest component of an automobile, which Audi has been in the business of making since 1910, it can no longer develop. It is beyond its ability to make. That’s a pretty sad statement about the German automaker.
Volkswagen EV development issues are to blame
But the real onus is on the parent company Volkswagen. Unfortunately, it has proven unable to advance past continuing software and ev development issues. Its Id.3 sedan has been in development since before 2016, when it was shown for the first time in Paris. Production began in 2019, and that’s when the problems began.
Volkswagen’s development spreads across several brands, including Skoda, Bentley, SEAT, and Porsche, to name a few. These brands rely on Volkswagen’s technological timeline to schedule their new models. Electrek says that Audi had to look beyond its parent when told that the next new EV platform would not be ready until 2029 at the earliest.
What SAIC EV platform will Audi use?
Obviously, Audi could not wait seven or more years with how quickly the technology is advancing. Audi is now partnering with SAIC to incorporate the EV platform found under its IM Motors luxury cars. SAIC says “strategic cooperation” with the German automaker will speed up EV development.
Some will argue Audi is still in the game as it will always be a manufacturer, not a technology company. But that belies the fact that several Chinese companies, not to mention Tesla, have no problem being both. With electrification washing over the auto industry worldwide, it is just part of being in business.
Will Audi still use the VW SSP EV platform for 2026?
But not for Audi. Though its Scalable Systems Platform (SSP) EV platform should debut in 2026, new software to upgrade it seems to be the issue. The plan was for Porsche to develop the SSP for large vehicle variants, with Audi configuring it for midsize applications and VW the small models. Porsche is developing what it calls the SSP Sport variant for a new three-row SUV.
The flexibility of the SSP is touted to reduce development times, and costs amortized over so many models. VW Group estimates that 87% of its models will be underpinned by the SSP. The Audi Q8 e-Tron was to arrive in 2026, with the A8 e-Tron arriving the following year.
It is too early to know how the SAIC partnership affects Audi’s SSP plans for future e-tron models. But if the platforms and technology already exist, then it looks as though Audi can firm up its e-Tron release dates after all. But with the SAIC platform rather than the SSP.