Transport of cars to China becomes more flexible

In 2020, Audi transported some of its cars for China by train for the first time, rather than by ship. This is not only faster and more flexible, but also saves CO₂.

12/18/2020 Reading Time: 2 min

Key Facts

  • Transportation of cars for China by train rather than by ship: more flexible and faster
  • Savings of 0.8 tons of CO2 per vehicle
  • Measure of the Audi Transformation Plan, that saves up EUR 15 billion and thus secures the financing of essential future projects 

In 2020, the journey from Germany to China became shorter. At least for some of the vehicles that Audi transported by train from the Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and Bratislava plants to Changchun and Xi'an. For the journey to Changchun, for example, this saves around 15 days. Because transporting a car from Ingolstadt to Changchun usually takes 34 days by ship – but only 19 per rail.

Faster and more flexible


Rail transport is therefore faster. What's more, transporting by rail is also more flexible, because logistics by rail works with shorter lead times. Particularly when production starts are postponed, this is a major advantage for getting the vehicles to the market and to the dealers on time.

The flexibility of rail transport also paid off, especially for the restart after the Corona lockdown in the spring: It meant that Audi was able to meet demand in the Chinese market more quickly again, transporting more than 3,400 vehicles to China between July and November. And in December, several trains again set off for China with around 1,000 vehicles on-board.

Major advantage for Audi

“In the long term, we see the flexibility of rail logistics in particular as a major advantage for Audi.”

Project manager Karl-Heinz Demel

"Rail transport has brought us good money this year. In the long term, we see the flexibility of rail logistics in particular as a major advantage for Audi. It helps us bring more vehicles to market faster and thus secure market launches," explains project manager Karl-Heinz Demel.

Incidentally, the impetus for Demel and his team came from an exchange with colleagues at Porsche. They had already partially switched to rail transport last year. They passed on their positive  experience to Audi as part of the cross-brand collaboration of "Best Performance," a module of the Volkswagen Group strategy TOGETHER 2025+.

This is how much CO₂ rail transport saves

A positive side effect of rail transport is that it not only ensures additional flexibility, but also saves 0.8 tons of CO₂ per vehicle compared with transport by ship. This could also have a positive effect for Audi from 2021. This is because German parliament recently passed a certificate price of 25 euros per ton of CO₂.


days saved

trough transportation by train rather than by ship


tons of CO₂

per vehicle compared with transport by ship

Measure of the Audi Transformation Plan

The partial switch from ship to rail transport pays into the Audi Transformation Plan (ATP). The team around the ATP identifies measures in seven work packages to reduce expenses for the entire company. But also – as in the case of rail transport – to identify new sources of revenue and support their implementation. Always with the goal in mind: To free up 15 billion and thus secure the financing of essential future projects such as digitalization and electrification.


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