Audi non-committal on platform for first Saic partnership vehicles
The VW subsidiary says discussions are ongoing
Ralf Brandstaetter, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, reaffirmed at IAA Mobility in Munich this week the plans for Audi to launch new premium models as part of its extended co-operation with Chinese OEM Saic. But the firm continues to be coy around on which platform it will build the first models.
That means building the new vehicles on Saic architecture, rather than VW’s new PPE platform for its premium vehicles, remains a possibility. And this could open the Audi-Saic deal to the same critique that the VW-Xpeng agreement in the mass market segment faced when the two were announced: analyst suspicion that VW using Xpeng architecture for initial models is an admission its MEB+ platform is a dud.
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“Audi will develop additional electric models for the premium segment together with Saic,” says Brandstaetter. “Volkswagen is accelerating to ‘China speed’.
“On the one hand, we rely upon our strong joint ventures and our global architecture. On the other, new partnerships that complement our own technology,” he continues.
When VW announced the two partnerships in late June, it said the Saic agreement “planned to start with electric models in a segment where Audi does not as yet have a presence in China”. But, while “all parties are contributing their respective core competences to the development effort”, there was no word on the underlying platform.
When asked for an update by EV inFocus, Audi says only that which firm will provide the architecture “is part of ongoing negotiations between the partners”.
The longer-term roadmap is a “planned, future joint development of new local platforms for the next generation of ICVs”, Audi says. But all eyes in the near term will be on the first models and their platform choice.
Another decision to favour Chinese technology will rise those same eyebrows on the fitness of VW platforms, at least the two interim technologies ahead of its longer-term SSP solution slated for 2026.