|May 30, 2007
Audi Takes Over Management Responsibility at Brussels Plant
The Audi success story continues: following today’s ceremony at Audi Brussels, the Audi family now has a new member. With a workforce of around 2,200, the Brussels plant is to be integrated into the Audi production network. “We are putting the plant into good and safe hands,” said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of AUDI AG. For Audi, the new plant is one of the requirements for achieving its strategic goal of building 1.5 million cars a year by 2015. Moreover, the production “turntable” between Ingolstadt and Brussels will open up the possibility for further increasing flexibility between the two plants.
In the presence of the Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand K. Piech, the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, the Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, Rupert Stadler, together with the Supervisory Board and the management of AUDI BRUSSELS S.A./N.V., the starting signal was given for the production of the Audi A3 Sportback and the “Four Rings” of Audi were symbolically unveiled. Three Audi A3 models in the colours of the Belgian flag – black, yellow and red – were presented on stage. The event’s guests of honour and speakers included Dr. Horst Neumann, Board Member for Human Resources and Director of Personnel at Volkswagen AG, Michael Riffel, Secretary-General of the European and World Group Works Council of Volkswagen AG, other representatives of the Volkswagen and Audi Boards of Management, the Audi Works Council and representatives of Belgian trade unions and politicians, including Members of the European Parliament.
With the plant currently undergoing restructuring, the production volume of Audi Brussels will be around 84,000 vehicles this year. From the end of 2009, the Audi A1 will be built exclusively in Brussels. “We are delighted to be able to add to our capacity in the Group thanks to the Brussels plant and a motivated team. We want to develop Audi Brussels into a benchmark within the Volkswagen Group with regard to production processes and productivity,” explains Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler.
Today’s assumption of management responsibility for the Brussels plant will also see the introduction of the successful Audi Production System. Continuous improvement processes, for example, which will permanently increase the economic efficiency of the plant, can be set in motion. “The Brussels plant is on the way up again. We can rely on the workforce’s outstanding qualifications,” explained Dr. Werner Widuckel, Board Member for Human Resources at AUDI AG and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Audi Brussels.
The framework conditions for a new collective agreement are laid down in a letter of intent, which was signed by the company management of AUDI AG and the Belgian trade unions on 12th March in Ingolstadt. Along with a 20 percent reduction in labour costs by 2009, these include a guarantee of jobs until 2010, flexible working hours on the basis of working time accounts, an income guarantee, a share in company profits, innovative work organisation, a more attractive workplace, through preventative health management for example, and training for the workforce. Widuckel: “The agreement is valid without any qualification, and will be implemented in every respect."
Negotiations for the collective agreement should be completed by the end of June. More than 76 percent of the workforce already voted in favour of the procedure in a referendum in March. “A clear verdict,” according to Alfons Dintner, spokesman of the Audi Brussels management. “The Brussels plant is determined to emerge from the restructuring process stronger and with a secure future ahead of it.” A further advantage is that Audi has already built the Audi A3 successfully at the Brussels plant between autumn 2004 and the end of 2005 and is therefore “best equipped for the new Audi era,” says Dintner.
Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council of AUDI AG, also sees the agreement as promising: “We are looking to the future in a positive frame of mind. The General Works Council and Audi’s employees are confident of rising to the forthcoming challenges. We know and have respect for our new colleagues in Brussels. Together, we now aim to continue to take Audi forward and achieve the targets we are striving for: growth and job security.”
The Brussels plant fits perfectly into Audi’s turntable concept. Producing volume models in two locations – such as the Audi A3 Sportback in Ingolstadt and Brussels – enables the company to respond flexibly to fluctuations in demand. This ensures a constant level of capacity utilisation at the plants and enables jobs to be protected in the long term. “Following complete restructuring, this production plant will have the potential to play a leading role in the car industry,” says Audi Board Member for Production, Frank Dreves.
In the 2006 financial year, Audi achieved record figures for production, vehicle sales, revenue and profit before tax. This trend continued in the first third of 2007. Worldwide vehicle sales rose by 9.4 percent to 332,900 units in the period January to April. Audi recently published a quarterly report on its revenue and profit for the first time. Compared with the same quarter of last year, the sales revenue of the Audi Group increased by 13.4 percent to EUR 8,679 (7,654) million. The operating result rose from EUR 350 to 401 million, an increase of 14.6 percent.