Audi is a little behind fellow German automaker BMW in the area of electrified autos, but it has a plan in place to address this shortcoming.
Speaking during Audi’s annual general meeting in the automaker’s home of Ingolstadt, Germany, CEO Rupert Stadler outlined a plan to introduce at least one electric car per year starting from 2018.
“Starting in 2018, we will launch another electrified car each year,” he said.
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It’s likely the Audi boss is referring to both battery-electrics and plug-in hybrids when he says “electrified,” as it’s unlikely we’ll see the automaker roll out a new battery-electric car every year.
Updated Audi A3 e-tron Sportback (European spec)
The 2018 date is significant as it is the year Audi launches its long-awaited electric SUV based on last year’s E-tron Quattro concept.
The new SUV, likely to be called a Q6 E-tron, will be produced in Belgium and promises a range of over 300 miles.
(Note that this figure is based on European standards and will likely be lower when calculated by the EPA.)
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Audi sees vehicle electrification as one of the biggest technological trends shaping the auto industry in the coming years.
It startled the industry by saying that by 2025, one in four of its cars would plug in to recharge—whether battery-electric or plug-in hybrid.
With the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal now in its eighth month, the luxury brand has extra incentive to electrify its lineup as a way to distinguish itself from its VW Group parent brand.
2016 Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback, San Francisco Bay Area, Oct 2015
Up until now, Audi's efforts have appeared somewhat piecemeal. The only plug-in hybrid available at present is the A3 E-tron Sportback, which has an electric range of 16 miles as measured by the EPA.
A plug-in hybrid version of the Q7, though promised for years, has yet to arrive in the U.S. market.
Its European version uses a TDI V-6 diesel engine similar to those caught up in the diesel scandal, so that version seems unlikely to be offered in the U.S.
BMW is presently the most aggressive of the three German luxury brands in electric cars, with its "i" electrified sub-brand, though the next vehicle in that series isn't expected until 2018 or later.
2017 BMW i3
Mercedes-Benz has not yet announced any major battery-electric products; its handful of electric-only cars have been small and produced in only limited volumes.
All three German makers will have plug-in hybrid versions of most of their volume lines by 2020.