Audi will develop a new electric car platform for China with its partner SAIC. This plan apparently expands the partnership established last July. At that time, it was rumoured that Audi wanted to use a platform from SAIC subsidiary IM Motors in China.

Audi has now announced that it will jointly develop models based on a platform called Advanced Digitised Platform. Reuters quotes the Ingolstadt-based VW subsidiary as saying that this could shorten the time to market launch by over 30 per cent.

Three electric models based on this platform are planned for the B and C segments. However, Audi will probably use VW's own nomenclature, according to which "B" refers to the mid-size class and "C" to the upper mid-size class (not small or compact cars as usual). The first of these models is due to be launched on the market as early as 2025.

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Audi CEO Gernot Döllner said, "We have a clear and common goal: to combine the best of our two companies for the full benefit of our Chinese customers with the premium experience of Audi and the speed of innovation of SAIC in China." In this way, Chinese customers can be offered "intuitive and intelligent premium digital experiences and automated driving functions." 

To date, Audi has used the modular electric toolkit (MEB) for two Chinese electric models: the Q4 e-tron and Q5 e-tron, which are built by the joint ventures with SAIC and FAW. The Q5 e-tron is a badge-engineered version of the VW ID.6, while the ID.6 is a seven-seater long-wheelbase version of the VW ID.4. Audi sold 6,420 units of the Q4 and Q5 e-tron in China in the first four months of the year.

Audi Q6 e-tron (2024)

Audi Q6 e-tron

Audi Q6L e-tron (2024)

Audi Q6L e-tron: 4.88 metres long

Audi is also planning a Chinese long-wheelbase version of the Q6 e-tron, which, like the European Q6 e-tron, is based on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE). However, the Audi Q6L will have a larger battery - it stores 107 kWh instead of 100 kWh like the battery in the normal Audi Q6 e-tron. Deliveries in China are scheduled to start in 2025.

The expanded cooperation with SAIC is probably also a response to the fierce competition on the Chinese market. China is the world's largest electric car market. But it is not only Audi that is cooperating with a Chinese manufacturer. The Volkswagen brand also announced a cooperation with Xpeng last summer. Two mid-size SUVs based on a platform from Xpeng are planned for launch in 2026.

Stellantis is pursuing a different cooperation model. The European-American group recently announced that it intends to launch two vehicles from Leapmotor on the European market in September. Together with Great Wall, BMW has developed the so-called Spotlight platform, on which the new Cooper and the Aceman are based.  

The bottom line

While the USA is apparently trying to shut out Chinese car manufacturers as much as possible, there are a number of companies in Europe that are focussing on cooperation. And while earlier joint ventures, for example between VW and FAW or SAIC, primarily utilised the production capacities of Chinese manufacturers, the focus is now on the platforms.