Audi’s strategic partnership with SAIC, a Chinese manufacturing brand, has garnered significant attention due to its unique advantages in the rapidly evolving electric vehicle (EV) market. While Audi had been facing delays with its parent company Volkswagen Group’s Scalable Systems Platform (SSP), the collaboration with SAIC offers an unexpected solution.
SAIC Motor, a state-owned Chinese carmaker, introduced its modular EV platform two years ago, which supports both rear- and all-wheel drive. The platform’s versatility and performance caught Audi’s interest, making it a potential fit for their future lineup of electric vehicles. Though the specific models to be built on this platform remain undisclosed, insiders speculate that Audi’s Activesphere, Urbansphere, Skysphere, and Grandsphere concepts could be prime candidates. Existing platforms within the Volkswagen Group, such as MEB, J1, and the upcoming Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architectures, were deemed unsuitable for these planned Audi models.
The partnership between Audi and SAIC presents a win-win scenario. Audi gains access to a cutting-edge EV platform, boosting its competitiveness in the market, while SAIC secures a prestigious collaboration, strengthening its position in the expanding EV industry.
Amid Audi’s ambitious EV goals for the next 3–5 years, this collaboration with SAIC is a crucial step in catching up with competitors and ensuring a successful electric-powered vehicle fleet. Contrary to some concerns about Audi “selling out” to China, the partnership with SAIC is seen as a practical move to leverage China’s expertise in mass production. SAIC’s track record in creating various EV platforms and its joint venture with Alibaba through IM Motors contribute to the company’s leadership in the market.
Notably, SAIC had already partnered with the Volkswagen Group in China, making the deal more understandable. Together with FAW, Audi is building an electric car plant in China, aimed at producing up to 150,000 vehicles annually from the end of 2024. While some individuals may have reservations about this decision, the additional production hubs and partners in China allow Audi to stay competitive in the EV market.
The upcoming Audi A6 e-tron and Q6 e-tron models are expected to be based on these new Chinese-made platforms, marking an intriguing development once they hit overseas markets. While there have been challenges in the past between Audi and Chinese companies, this deal signifies a significant shift in the dynamics, indicating cooperation between two major players in the industry. Overall, Audi’s partnership with SAIC represents a masterstroke in securing a cutting-edge EV platform and establishing a strategic position in the rapidly evolving automotive landscape.