Cooperation new content official announcement! Audi and SAIC have made big moves


Zhang Dongmei Liu Xiaobin


Following the signing of a joint development agreement on technical cooperation between Volkswagen Group and Xopeng Automobile at the end of February this year, the deepening cooperation between Audi and SAIC announced in the same period last year has finally settled.


On May 20, Audi signed cooperation agreements with SAIC and SAIC Volkswagen to further strengthen local cooperation. Audi will jointly develop a new Platform focused on the Chinese market - "Advanced digital platform" with SAIC, and build a new generation of high-end intelligent connected models based on this platform. The first vehicles will be three all-electric models covering the B-class and C-class segments, the first of which will hit the market in 2025. In addition, around the cooperation between Audi and SAIC, a joint project management team has been established, and Fermin Soneira from Audi will serve as CEO.


Build up China's power


At present, the Volkswagen Group is accelerating the hand of Chinese local manufacturers. Following Guoxuan Gaoke, Zhongke Chuangda, Horizon and other enterprises, in late July last year, Volkswagen Group officially announced capital injection into Xopeng Motor, at the same time, Volkswagen brand and Xopeng Motor reached a technical cooperation framework agreement, and Audi and SAIC signed a memorandum of understanding to deepen the existing cooperation. The two cooperation agreements highlight the determination and urgency of the Volkswagen Group's transformation in China.


Both collaborations will jointly develop electric intelligent connected vehicles (ICVs) for the Chinese market. Among them, the technical cooperation and joint development agreement between the Volkswagen brand and Xiaopeng Automobile was officially announced at the end of February this year, and the two B-class cars jointly built by the two parties will be listed in 2026. By contrast, the formal agreement between Audi and SAIC was signed slightly later, but the new car went on sale earlier. The first of the three new cars the two companies plan to jointly build will hit the market in 2025. Jia Jianxu, general manager of SAIC Volkswagen, revealed that the new car is aimed at high-end customers, targeting groups interested in experiencing trend technology.


"Adhering to the 'in China, for China' strategy, Volkswagen Group is accelerating the process of electrification in China. To achieve this goal, we continue to expand and strengthen local cooperation." Ralf Brandstatter, Managing Director of Volkswagen Group in China, said: "We have rapidly expanded our existing product portfolio based on a global platform, bringing models specifically tailored for the Chinese market to meet the needs of new customer groups and actively seize market growth opportunities. The deepened cooperation between Audi and SAIC is another important milestone in the implementation of our 'in China, for China' strategy."


It is understood that in order to create a new generation of high-end intelligent network models, Audi and SAIC will jointly develop a new platform "intelligent digital platform" for the Chinese market. Jia Jianxu stressed in an interview with China Automotive News and other media that this is a completely new digital platform, not the existing "nebula platform" of the Internet.


Audi Global CEO Denis Gauderno said: "We have a clear and common goal: to combine the excellence of both sides, combine the Audi luxury heritage with the speed of local innovation of SAIC, and fully meet the needs of Chinese users. Through this partnership with SAIC, we will further accelerate our electrification strategy in China."


According to the plan announced at the beginning of the year, the Volkswagen Group will launch more than ten pure electric models in the Chinese market in 2024, mainly based on the MEB and PPE platforms; More than 20 pure electric models will be launched by 2027, and the SSP platform is also planned to be fully marketed at a later date. By 2030, the Volkswagen Group will offer at least 30 pure electric models in China.


"Audi's signature aesthetics and engineering complement SAIC's innovative energy to bring intuitive, connected digital experiences and advanced autonomous driving capabilities to Chinese consumers," he added. It can be seen that, just as the Volkswagen brand values Xiaopeng's technological accumulation in the field of electrification, vehicle networking and autonomous driving, Audi also hopes to take advantage of SAIC's innovative advantages in the field of electrification and digital intelligence to achieve further progress. In fact, the technological advantages of Chinese enterprises in the "new Four Modernizations" field are an important reason why multinational car companies are willing to hold hands with them, including Stellantis' cooperation with Zero cars.


'No internal friction between North and South Audis'


For Audi and SAIC deepen the reason for cooperation, Song Feiming told reporters: "The reason is China, two reasons. First, China's electric vehicle market is the fastest growing market in the world. Audi is currently undergoing a comprehensive electrification transformation, and the Chinese market gives Audi huge room for improvement. Second, Chinese consumers have higher expectations, have more knowledge about technology, and are willing to pursue trends, so they need to provide customized solutions. Based on this, Audi is working with SAIC to achieve this goal."


At present, China's automobile market is undergoing profound changes, new energy vehicles are accelerating to replace traditional fuel vehicles, independent brands are accelerating to seize the traditional advantages of joint venture brands in the market, after entering China for 40 years, the Volkswagen Group has also begun to come under pressure. Faced with this situation, the Volkswagen Group actively sought change. Through the cooperation between the Volkswagen brand and Xopeng Automobile and Audi and SAIC to introduce more models for the rapidly growing Chinese electric mobility market, the Volkswagen Group hopes to strengthen its position in the Chinese automotive market and continue to promote the strategy of electrification in China.


"The seed of Audi, planted on the land of China's new quality productivity, will surely take root and sprout." Behind SAIC Audi is a new track for the joint venture." Jia Jianxu stressed.


At present, in the Chinese market, the new car release and product iteration speed are getting faster and faster. In order to comply with this trend, Volkswagen Group chooses to cooperate with local Chinese enterprises to accelerate the speed of product introduction. At the time of the official announcement of the cooperation with Xopeng Motor, Volkswagen Group has said that through joint procurement and the application of innovative technologies in the vehicle design and engineering stage, the product development cycle will be reduced by more than 30 percent.


Audi's partnership with SAIC has had the same effect. Audi officials pointed out that this cooperation model has significantly shortened the market cycle of Audi products by more than 30%. "This joint project highlights the essence of the cooperation between Meimei and Gongxin." We will work together to advance development, procurement, production and sales." Song Fei Ming said.


Jia Jianxu told reporters: "All the best supply chain companies are in China, the most diversified digital intelligence is in China, and the world's most picky users are in China." Only 30 months development cycle, only three parties can achieve. A year in the making, that's pretty fast in the system."


It is worth noting that while Audi and SAIC deepen cooperation at the same time, in Changchun, Jilin, Audi FAW New Energy Automobile Co., Ltd. has started pre-mass production at the beginning of this year, planning an annual capacity of more than 150,000 vehicles, will be put into production from the end of this year for the Chinese market to create Audi Q6 e-tron and Audi A6 e-tron series of three pure electric models. In this regard, Jia Jianxu stressed: "There will be no internal friction between the North and South Audi. Saic Audi and Audi FAW have their own beauty, and finally the beauty is shared." After all, the new energy models put into production by Audi FAW are models built based on its global platform, and the new models that SAIC Audi will put into production are based on the local platform, which makes both sides focus on each other, so as to achieve "beauty and sharing".


Originally published by China Automotive News, May 21, 2024