Audi halted output of its E-Tron SUV to resolve production issues including battery-supply bottlenecks as it prepares to flank the model with a sportier variant, underscoring the struggles traditional automakers face to boost electric cars and challenge Tesla Inc.
Manufacturing at Audi’s factory in Brussels stopped on Thursday and the plant will remain idle until Tuesday, a company spokeswoman said Monday by phone. Audi sold about 26,400 E-Tron cars last year, she said, declining to comment on estimated deliveries this year.
Audi, Volkswagen AG’s largest profit contributor, had to delay the E-Tron’s market launch after its unveiling in September 2018. Audi recalled its first all-electric model last year over potential fire risk. It plans to add the E-Tron Sportback version — which features a more coupe-like declining roofline — later this year as well as a performance sedan dubbed the E-Tron GT.
Former BMW AG executive Markus Duesmann will take over as chief executive at Audi in April to accelerate restructuring efforts and try to restore the brand’s technological edge. In November, the company mapped out plans to cut roughly 15% of its German workforce by 2025 as part of a broader push to lift earnings by 6 billion euros ($6.5 billion).
The E-Tron production outtage in Brussels was earlier reported by Belgian newspaper L’Echo. LG Chem Ltd. supplies the battery cells for the model.
— Christoph Rauwald (Bloomberg)