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Audi will build a 'mirror plant' in Puebla to assemble electric vehicles

San Jose Chiapa, Puebla. The German automaker Audi has a clear global goal: to stop selling internal combustion vehicles by 2033. And the Puebla plant is already preparing to migrate to electrification .

The complex is on an area of 460 hectares, of which 200 are destined for the production of gasoline models and another 60 hectares for warehouses. In the 200 free hectares of the complex, the company plans to build a “mirror plant”, in which it will assemble the electric version of Q5.

“We are prepared for electrification, there is a lot of highly qualified labor here… We have future plans for this plant. I cannot say more about these plans, only that the entire (free) area is to duplicate the plant, like a mirror plant,” says Tarek Mashhour, CEO of Audi’s Mexican plant.

The manager explained that the only difference between the internal combustion model and the electric version is the electric motor and the battery, so its supply chain will remain practically unchanged. “It’s not going to change that much, because the only change is the engine, the other is an electric motor, but all the rest of the car is like today, the suppliers are practically the same,” he adds.

Although there is still no exact figure on how much the German company will be investing in the new production, Mashhour points out that the capital injection will be in the millions of dollars . “They have all the suppliers, we have to develop ships for the structure, batteries that we don’t have,” he adds.

Other manufacturers have earmarked around $1 billion to convert their current plants in Mexico to produce electric vehicles.

Some 180 suppliers currently supply the plant, of which 70% are established in North America, and Mashhour will seek to maintain a similar integration for its electric models, which will require the development of new suppliers of the components of the electrical system.

One of the biggest challenges that Audi -and all manufacturers seeking to produce electric vehicles that comply with the T-MEC rules- will have is to have battery production in the region or, failing that, to assemble them themselves.

carbon neutrality

The electrification of the range will require the Audi plant network to migrate towards more sustainable production schemes . At a global level, the firm has the objective that in 2025 all its plants reach carbon neutrality .

In 2018, the complex in Brussels, where the Audi A3 is assembled, was the first to achieve carbon neutrality within the Audi plant network, also being certified as the first high-volume production plant for zero-emission premium vehicles in the world. world, through the coexistence of a photovoltaic system with an area of 107,000 square meters, in addition to the use of biogas.

Pablo Álvarez, environmental planner for the company in Mexico, highlights that there are four lines of action for Audi to move towards its goal : decarbonization, water care, lower waste emissions and preserving the existing biodiversity in the complex.

The plant currently uses natural gas to reach the necessary temperature in some of its processes such as aluminum and steel pressing, bodywork welding and unit painting, but it is already analyzing other supply alternatives.

“What we are analyzing right now could be changing heat for electricity, which would obviously have a higher cost. Or maybe start looking for alternative fuels, like biogas. We are in a very initial phase, doing geothermal studies, but it is not that easy,” adds Álvarez.

The plant has a waste warehouse where approximately 30,000 tons of metals are recycled each year, mainly steel and aluminum, in addition to a reverse osmosis plant in which the water used in the processes is treated, through which a recovery of 93% of the water.

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