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Audi Q8 e-tron production to face early end

Slow sales of all-electric Audi Q8 e-tron lead management to consider production stop

11 Jul 2024

SALES of Audi’s flagship Q8 e-tron fully electric large SUV range are so slow in Europe that the company is seriously considering pulling the pin on its production.


Company documents and statements in addition to reports across a number of automotive media outlets suggest Q8 e-tron sales have “collapsed” as the market speaks loud and clear to the four rings company.


It is too early to determine the model’s sales performance here as a revised Q8 e-tron range only arrived a few weeks ago.


The updated Australian spec’ Q8 e-tron model line-up is available in: Q8 50 wagon at $140,600 plus on-road costs, Q8 55 coupe-style Sportback $154,600 + ORC, SQ8 wagon at $173,600 + ORC and SQ8 Sportback at $180,600 + ORC.


European Q8 e-tron pricing is considerably less than this starting at €83,500 ($US89,627 or $A132,552) but it doesn’t seem to have been sharp enough to get the model across the line with buyers.


Main competitors are the BMW iX, Jaguar i-Pace, Mercedes-Benz EQE and the Porsche Cayenne BEVs.


In an attempt to maintain a positive spin on the situation, Audi is blaming a broader downturn in premium BEV sales that led to it considering an early end to the flagship model's series production.


Exacerbating the problem for Audi is the current inflationary cost-of-living crisis.

In a statement, the German manufacturer said this greatly affects the future prospects of its Q8 and Q8 Sportback e-tron models and so it is considering ending the production run of the cars at its plant in Brussels, Belgium.


Audi would no doubt have been looking for better news following significant upgrades introduced across the new Q8 e-tron range including the battery that now offers 20 per cent more capacity from the same packaging, thanks to 12 addition stacked prismatic cells (to now total 432).


The Q8 50 e-tron wagon battery capacity (lithium-ion) is listed at 95kWh gross (89kWh net) with DC charging at 150kW. The WLTP range is listed 411km.


The Q8 55 e-tron Sportback offers a battery capacity of 114kWh, 170kW DC charging and a range of 454km (WLTP), while the SQ8 wagon and Sportback each feature a 114kWh battery capacity and 170kW DC charging, with WLTP ranges of 417km and 430km respectively.


Charging times fall between 28 and 31 minutes against the 10-80 per cent standard when charged with a DC fast charger. The maximum AC charging rate is listed at 22kW with times there of around five hours.


The Q8 50 e-tron wagon offers up 250kW of power and 664Nm or torque to provide a 0-100km/h time of 6.0 seconds. The Q8 55 e-tron Sportback delivers 300kW and 664Nm and can accelerate 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 200km/h.


The SQ8 variants produce 370kW of power and 973Nm of torque from a three-motor driveline, giving a 0-100km/h in an impressive 4.5 seconds on its way to an electronically limited v-max of 210km/h.


As reported in Wards 100 newsletter, the factory’s board of management has told Audi’s Company Council of its intention to carry out a “restructuring of the site” and that this “may also include a cessation of operations if no alternative is found”.


The report said the Q8 e-tron was Audi’s first foray into BEV production in 2018 but the company says it is now seeing a sharp drop in incoming orders.


“Challenges in restructuring the Brussels site include its particular layout and the fact it is very close to the city centre, resulting in higher production costs compared to other plants and prompting the automaker to consider ending production of the Q8 e-tron ahead of schedule,” the statement said.


Audi says this announcement “triggers the launch of the information and consultation process where the company management will discuss solutions for the employees and the site together with the responsible social partners and examine alternatives in detail”.


CEO of Audi Brussels Volker Germann said: “The announcement of the intention does not mean that a decision has been made. Nevertheless, this news has been felt very profoundly by the employees in Brussels and by me too”.


“A transparent and constructive dialog is important in the process that will follow. We will take all perspectives into account,” he concluded.

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