Production for the new Audi Q3 has begun at SEAT’s factory in Martorell, Spain. The small SUV, which will do battle with BMW’s X1, had its world debut at the recent Shanghai show. Market launch is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.

Around 100,000 Q3s are slated to roll off the three-shift assembly line annually. Audi and SEAT together have invested around €330 million in infrastructure and facilities at the 18-year old plant. A new body shop featuring 450 robots was specially set up for the Q3 on a 322,917 sq.ft site. It features the “roof bell,” an innovative development from the Audi Toolmaking Shop in Ingolstadt. A robot grabs the roof and aligns it precisely while a second robot has the roof bell ready for the following roof of the next body.

By building the Q3 at Marotell, Audi will provide about 1,500 jobs at the plant, including 700 newly created positions. This comes at a time when Spain’s economy is in dire straits and unemployment is high, so it can be viewed as social responsibility on VW Group’s part. All staff have completed a 180-hour program designed specifically for the Q3.

In a future second phase, Audi plans to build the Q3 in China for local consumption. Read all about the Q3 and view the gallery here.