Audi Brussels has announced battery modules and cells for its electric vehicles (EVs) that travel from Hungary to Brussels will be delivered by rail instead of truck. This switch will reduce annual carbon emissions by around 2,600 tons.
To meet the Belgian site’s demand, between 12 and 15 fully loaded vehicles set off across Europe every day. This caravan of trucks is now being replaced completely by rail transport.
This serves as a model for revolutionising, if possible, all shipments of the car manufacturer’s battery components in the future. Reducing the company’s ecological footprint is the central goal of the cross-site environmental program Mission:Zero. It is a major milestone on Audi’s journey toward across-the-board sustainability.
In the future, components for the production of batteries at Audi’s Brussels plant will no longer be delivered by truck from Hungary but by rail with DB Cargo. The move will radically reduce Audi’s environmentally harmful carbon emissions and save a lot of money. Hopefully, more carmakers will follow this lead to help keep costs down and, most importantly, for a more sustainable future.
The switch which was started in May is scheduled to be completed by the beginning of 2023 and is a preview of the car manufacturer’s future. This is good news for the environment as sales of electric cars continue to grow. Audi Group, who announced all new releases will be electric cars from 2026, saw sales of electric vehicles increase by 66.2 percent during the first quarter of 2022.
Dieter Braun, AUDI AG Head of Supply Chain, said: “Brussels plays a pioneering role, but we developed this sustainable logistics concept for battery modules and cells in Audi’s entire production network.”
Switching to Rail Reduces Emissions and Saves Money
The project in Brussels illustrates the huge potential of this supply chain concept. Until now, battery modules and cells needed in Belgium for the Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron Sportback were transported by truck over the approximately 800 mile (1,300km) route from the supplier in Hungary.
Wherever possible, Audi uses DB Cargo’s DBeco-plus service, for example, currently for the legs of the route in Austria and Germany. This service sources power exclusively from renewable sources such as wind, water, or solar energy, making transport carbon-free.
In Hungary and Belgium, Audi uses DBeco-neutral. With this service, the power used for transportation is offset by means of climate certificates, reducing carbon emissions elsewhere.
Volker Germann, Audi Brussels Chairman of the Board of Management, said: “Our site has already been net carbon neutral since 2018. Therefore, we’re also working to make the supply chain sustainable in order to contribute to environmental protection at all levels.”
The supplier of the battery modules in Hungary does not have its own rail siding. As a result, Audi AG’s long-standing project partner DB Cargo recently put a logistics centre into operation at the Győr site. At the weather-protected logistics centre, battery modules are reloaded from trucks to rail cars for delivery.
To meet the high quality and safety requirements for battery modules and cells, the Audi Supply Chain team uses a digital information platform and special sensor technology to monitor the temperature and any shocks in the rail cars.
A Company-Wide Concept
The shift pioneered by Brussels is planned to be extended to the entire company in the foreseeable future. High-turnover components, such as battery modules and cells, will increasingly switch to delivery by rail by 2025.
At Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, for example, everything is ready to go for the production of batteries using modules and cells shipped by rail. These batteries will then be used to manufacture Audi models on site.
New equipment and processes have been installed specifically for this purpose. Plus, other plants are already waiting in the wings to switch to rail delivery of battery components.
Similarly, a large share of the finished products are also shipped by rail. Today, around 68 percent of Audi vehicles in Europe already leave the plants by rail, a figure that is set to increase in the future.
Integration in Environmental Program Mission:Zero
These targets dovetail with the company-wide environmental program Mission:Zero. With this Audi is aiming to achieve net carbon neutrality at all Audi sites by 2025.
In addition to the decarbonisation of production and logistics, water use, resource efficiency and biodiversity are other key areas of activity for the Mission:Zero program.