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Future models - Audi - e-Tron

Audi invests in electric future

Lightyears ahead: Quattro Concept heralds Audi's lightweighting strategy for future sportscars.

Volkswagen luxury brand announces largest ever investment as Audi plans EV future

Audi logo29 Dec 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

AUDI will sink an unprecedented $A15 billion into the development of facilities and future models including next year’s redesigned A6, new Q5 Hybrid and all-new Q3, plus the R8 e-Tron that the Volkswagen premium division has now committed to releasing as Audi’s first electric sportscar by late 2012.

The German luxury car giant announced the largest single investment in its history on December 29, with €11.6 billion to be spent on upgrading Audi’s manufacturing sites and developing new models and technologies between 2011 and 2015.

As part of the massive spend, Audi says it will create 1200 new high-skill jobs in 2011 – compared to 500 experts and 780 trainees this year – and earmark more than €5 billion ($A6.5b) for its German production plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.

“Innovation requires people,” said Audi AG board member for human resources Thomas Sigi. “For this reason, we want to hire around 1200 experts in 2011 who will primarily bolster our electromobility and lightweight construction fields of competence, as well as the implementation of our growth strategy.”

Audi said about 80 per cent of the total investment, or more than €9.5 billion ($A12.3b), will go to developing future technologies such as electric and hybrid drive systems for new products including the R8 e-Tron, which Audi has committed to producing from late 2012.

7 center imageLeft, from top: Audi Cross Coupe concept, Q5 Hybrid tech drawing, A8 Hybrid, A1 e-Tron and e-Tron Spyder concept.Before then, next year will see Audi introduce a number of new models, including the R8 GT hypercar, all-new RS3 hot-hatch, all-new A7 Sportback, redesigned A6 range (including a petrol-electric hybrid version from 2012), a hybrid version of the mid-sized Q5 crossover and the all-new Q3 compact SUV – all of which should go on sale in Australia by the end of 2011.

The Q5 Hybrid – Audi’s first full hybrid model - and fourth-generation A6 have already been revealed ahead of production in Germany, while the Q3 – as previewed by the Cross Coupe concept at the 2007 Shanghai motor show - will be produced by Volkswagen’s Spanish subsidiary in Martorell.

While Audi’s new A8 limousine and all-new A1 compact hatch have just been released in Australia (with the latter expected to spawn further body style derivatives), the next volume-selling Audi to be replaced should be the A3, which will be replaced by a third-generation model line-up comprising three-door hatchback, five-door Sportback, two-door cabriolet and, for the first time, sub-A4 four-door sedan guises by 2013.

Apart from planning hybrid versions of most of its core models and committing to an all-electric version of its R8 sportscar, Audi has revealed a string or hybrid, electric and lightweight show cars, including the A5 Coupe-based 300kW/1300kg Quattro Concept and the 1000Nm diesel-electric e-Tron Spyder.

Future A1 derivatives will include the flagship 1.4 TFSI three-door, followed by the five-door A1 Sportback and A1 Hybrid, as previewed by the A1 e-Tron concept.

The VW Polo-based A1 – priced here from $29,990, making Audi Australia’s first sub-$30,000 model - will be integral to Audi’s ambitions of selling more than one million vehicles (a feat it has achieved only once before, in 2008) this year, representing a 5.3 per cent sales increase over 2009, when it posted about 950,000 sales.

As part of its ‘Route 15’ business plan – which has now been superseded by the ‘Vision 20/20’ strategy for 2020 - Audi aimed to become the world’s number one luxury brand by selling 1.5 million vehicles annually by 2015.

“With this investment, we are laying the foundation for sustained, profitable growth, and supporting our claim to leadership in the premium car segment,” said Audi AG board member for finance and organisation, Axel Strotbek.

“In addition to our foreign sites, the German sites will also profit greatly from the Audi brand’s good worldwide prospects for growth, especially in China.”

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