The Audi R8's mid-engined platform could be culled
Audi will no longer design and engineer its own platforms for future vehicles, according to German media reports, as the VW Group embarks on a sweeping cost-saving exercise to pay for huge losses associated with the Dieselgate scandal.
Respected German business magazine Der Spiegel revealed that Audi boss Rupert Stadler has indicated to company staff that "all future investments" at Audi are now "under scrutiny".
The VW supervisory board is expected to meet on 18 November to rubber stamp spending plans for the Group’s various automotive brands.
As well as suspending plans for a new crash test centre and wind tunnel, Audi may also abandon its home-grown MLB platform, which is used for models from the A4 to the A7 and A8. The mid-engined platform underpinning the R8 super car is also expected to be dropped and it’s not certain that today’s R8 will be replaced.
As Autocar has already reported, Audi’s involvement with motorsport is also under question. The highly successful LMP1 series looks like it will be officially brought to an end in the near future.
A local German newspaper has also reported that plans for a massive investment in an Apple-style technology campus at Audi’s Ingolstadt HQ have also been cancelled. However, Audi told Autocar that the campus project has been postponed, not cancelled.
Dubbed the INovation-Campus, it would consist of as many as 75 buildings and would be connected to the local motorway network with its own junction. The web pages hosting the plans being developed by architects AS+P have been deleted.
The news comes as the Volkswagen brand operation in Wolfsburg wants to slash 10% of its overall running costs in just one year and improve the efficiency of its plants by 5-8%, removing third and weekend shifts, according to German media reports. Audi has already begun to reduce the number of shifts building its MLB-based models.
It’s thought that the next-generation Audi A4 and A5 models will be sistered with the VW Passat on the transverse-engined MQB platform. The larger Audi models - including the A6 and A7 - are expected to be built on the shortened version of Porsche’s MSB platform, which is currently used for the Panamera. This would mean the future A6 and A7 would be offered as either rear-drive or all-wheel drive.
Autocar contacted Audi for comment on the news. It said “Audi will continue to strictly maintain the features typical of its brand, and will continue fulfilling the specific desires of Audi customers.
"Even when modules are used from other members of the group, an Audi will always be identifiable as an automobile with the Four Rings; that is guaranteed by more than ten thousand employees at our Technical Development division in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and Györ.”
Currently Audi builds around 770,000 cars based on MLB platforms. However, even those volumes look unsustainable partly because MLB demands unique transmission systems and modified VW group engines. Audi will also be able to reign in its substantial £3.8bn annual research and development budget.