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More Q SUVs and pure EVs in Audi’s future

Q’d in: Q4 and Q6 styling will likely borrow heavily from the Q8 concept (below) and Q8 sport concept (left) as smaller, more stylish SUVs to bulk out Audi’s Q range.

Audi boss promises more crossovers to fill Q range, as well as electric small car

Audi logo13 Mar 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

AUDI will “fill the gaps” in its SUV range by developing Q4 and Q6 SUVs, alongside bringing an all-electric SUV and small car to market, according to Audi chairman of the board of management Rupert Stadler.

Speaking with Australian journalists at the Geneva motor show last week, Mr Stadler said that after the release of the forthcoming Q8 large coupe crossover – as shown in near-production concept form at the Swiss show – the German prestige brand would turn its attention to expanding its SUV range further.

Currently, Audi’s offerings include the recently released Q2 compact crossover, the Q3 small SUV, Q5 mid-sizer and Q7 large SUV, with the Q8 range-topper – previewed by the Q8 Sport concept in Geneva – expected to launch in 2018.

“Yeah, they (the SUV range) have to be filled,” Mr Stadler said. “I’m absolutely sure they have to be filled because the customer desire in different global regions is somehow so different that you have to be on the marketplace with different variables.

“We are strongly working on that because we see that there is a business potential. We see that with new variables and products, we can reload Audi. Of course, on one hand with technologies, on the other hand, optically with new products. This is finally what drives strongly.”

When asked if a Q1 offering could slot underneath the Q2, Mr Stadler answered that “the priorities are a little more upscale”.

“Of course, we named the Q2 because it is named Q2 to keep at least an option,” he said. “But our job is much more in the direction of Q4 and upwards.”

A coupe-like Q4 and Q6 could fit into Audi’s stable as more stylish offerings based on its Q3 and Q5 SUVs respectively, similar to the positioning of the upcoming Q8.

This would give Audi more ammunition in the burgeoning premium coupe/SUV market, and would compete against the likes of the BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe.

Another crossover product in the works, Audi’s first all-electric SUV previewed by the e-tron Quattro concept at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show, is still on track for a 2018 release, but will likely carry a unique name to mark the brand’s first foray into pure EVs.

“We’re still working on the right nomenclature,” he said. “But being honest, I would like to feel free in terms of positioning that car.

“It is like the word ‘quattro’ 25 years ago or 30 years ago. It is something very special. It is our first pure battery-electric vehicle with a range of 500km.

“This needs to be positioned adequately, not pressing a car only within a certain range and with some figures in there.

“It should be a special place because it is now the first one. Of course, maybe the next generations, it will properly fit into our standard nomenclature because we see much more better electric vehicles in the future.”

Mr Stadler promised that more models will follow the electric SUV’s lead, the first of which is to be an emissions-free small car that would likely compete against the BMW i3.

“The decision-making was based on technology, on getting into the lead, because it’s not only one car, there will be more in terms of battery-electric vehicles,” he said.

“So it is about the positioning of the brand Audi. And of course, we have to move on with innovations.

“We will surprise you hopefully during 2017. And then, of course, our mission is in the compact segment to have a battery-electric vehicle. Maybe this one does not need 500km range. Maybe we can work with 400, 450.

“Maybe there is different packages which we can offer in terms of range and here we are working very close together with Volkswagen guys on the MEV (modular electric vehicle) platform.”

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