Audi may love clean diesel, but the company isn't turning its back on electric and hybrid vehicles; in fact, the company wants to dominate the market for luxury hybrid and EV models by 2020. In order to accomplish that feat, the German auto brand has some big plans in store for both types of vehicles.
"By 2020, we want to be the leading premium seller of electric vehicles," Franciscus van Meel, Audi's manager for electric mobility strategy, told Automotive News at a technical workshop held at the company's headquarters in Germany. "We will successively bring out a variety of hybrid models and electric vehicles, such as our first plug-in hybrid in 2014."
This is the first we've heard about a production plug-in hybrid from Audi. Van Meel didn't disclose any additional information on the vehicle, but we wouldn't be surprised if it's simply a mass-production form of the company's A1 e-Tron concept. Currently, Audi is building a small batch of the range-extending electric vehicles for testing around Munich, but executives have previously indicated the car could become a regular production model if proven successful through real-world testing.
Audi's conventional hybrid plans, however, are a little easier to read. The company has previewed hybrid versions of both its A8 flagship and the Q5 crossover, and both of which are expected to enter production in late 2011. A hybrid form of the new A6 is also expected, and will likely join the lineup in 2012.
When it comes to pure battery-electric vehicles, however, Audi's strategy is simple: start from the top and trickle down. High-end, high-price vehicles, like the R8 e-tron, will be the first to reach the market with the EV powertrain, but it will be rolled out across the company's entire lineup. Van Meel predicts Audi EV sales will reach six figures by 2020. To design and create these new models, Audi has recently opened a 151,000-square-foot development center in Germany that is dedicated to EV R&D.
Although Audi believes electric vehicles are the future of personal vehicles and hybrids are a stop-gap solution, the German automaker has plans to continue developing more efficient internal combustion technologies. Michael Dick, Audi's board member in charge of technology, said that by 2020, the company aims to improve ICE efficiency by 30 percent.
Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription required)