Back in the 1980s, Audi was one of the very first carmakers to promote all-wheel drive aggressively--first in rally cars, then in production sedans and coupes.

Quattro all-wheel drive helped Audi stand out from the crowd, and has been an important part of its brand identity ever since.

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Now, Audi is taking Quattro in a new, greener direction.

The next Audi A4 will feature an electric all-wheel drive system dubbed "e-Quattro," according to Britain's CAR magazine.

It appears that the system will team an internal combustion engine with two electric motors--one integrated with the transmission, the other attached to the rear axle that directly powers the back wheels.

Audi TT Offroad concept, 2014 Beijing Auto Show

Audi TT Offroad concept, 2014 Beijing Auto Show

A performance version of e-Quattro will reportedly boast a combined output of up to 408 horsepower, but less powerful versions will likely be offered as well.

In addition to hybrid all-wheel drive mode, cars equipped with the system will be to operate on front-wheel drive solely using internal combustion power, or rear-wheel drive with just electric power.

In addition to the A4, e-Quattro appears slated for the 2017 TTQ--a small crossover based on the TT sports car.

MORE: Audi TT Offroad Concept: Plug-In Hybrid Crossover In Beijing Debut

That model will likely resemble the TT Offroad concept from the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, which had an electric all-wheel drive setup of its own.

Outside of Audi, electric all-wheel drive isn't an unfamiliar concept.

Nissan offered "e4WD" on Japanese-market versions of the discontinued Cube, and Peugeot still offers a similar setup on its Hybrid4 diesel hybrid models.

Audi TT Offroad concept, 2014 Beijing Auto Show

Audi TT Offroad concept, 2014 Beijing Auto Show

Rear-mounted electric motors are also used as part of the drivetrains of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX 450h crossovers.

More recently, electric all-wheel drive has been deployed by carmakers in performance applications.

Acura already offers "Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive" in the RLX sedan, with a name as bold as its sporting claims.

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Honda's luxury brand will use a different system on the 2016 Acura NSX supercar--putting that model in the company of the BMW i8 and Porsche 918 Spyder. All three use electric motors to drive their front wheels.

General Motors is also reportedly investigating electric all-wheel drive for future Cadillac and Chevrolet performance models, although it could be used in more mainstream vehicles as well.


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