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Audi outlines 10-year plan

Q2 new to you: The next ten years of Audi new product will bring fresh faces to the SUV range including the new Q2 and more electrified e-tron powertrains.

More growth planned for four-ring brand in 2016 despite diesel emissions crisis

Audi logo16 May 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

AUDI has managed to ride out 2015 with another record sales year of 1.8 million vehicles, despite the Volkswagen Group diesel emissions scandal that impacted thousands of four-ringed cars, and has announced plans for continued growing through 2016 with an onslaught of new products over the next decade.

The German car-maker is planning to drive the further expansion with a commitment of €3b ($A4.6b), which it will use to further develop the model line-up, manufacturing facilities and future technologies, the company says.

Already this year, the car-maker has moved 620,100 vehicles globally to the end of April, putting Audi on track to meet its 2016 strategic target corridor of between eight and 10 per cent, and cash flow of between €2b and €2.5b ($A3.1-3.8b).

Its 2015 operating profits might have been closer to the €5.1b ($A7.9b) were it not for the diesel emissions scandal, which dragged the final figure to €4.8b ($A7.4b) along with other “special items”.

At its annual general meeting in Ingolstadt, the company's top brass mapped out some of its plans to maintain momentum for the next ten years, including a new product portfolio that includes a range of electrified vehicles, SUVs and a Tesla Model X-bating full-electric SUV.

The fleet of more that 20 new or updated Audis will kick off with the new Q2 later this year, which brings a sub-compact SUV representative to the German brand's line-up, equipped with technology such as unlimited internet access that will target a younger audience, as well as “numerous driver assistance systems”. The little Audi crossover is due in Australia early next year.

This year will also see a successor to the Audi A4-based S4 that will launch in both sedan and Avant wagon form. The less performance-focused A4 and A4 Avant have already launched on Australian soil.

In 2017, a new Audi A8 will take its position as the flagship model and another step towards full autonomous driving for the company with “piloted driving” and “traffic-jam pilot” which will allow self driving on sections of the Autobahn.

Initially, the technology will only function up to speeds of 60km/h, which would limit its usefulness on Germany's famously high-speed roads, but as with all autonomous technology, the system is expected to evolve and improve.

While some of its competitors have predicted the first self-driving cars before the end of the decade, Audi has a more conservative target.

“By 2025, we will see fully automated driving,” said Audi AG board of management chairman Rupert Stadler.

At the higher end of the Q family of SUVs, the Q7 range will get the SQ7 TDI high-performance variant and the company's second plug-in hybrid when the Q7 e-tron arrives.

After that, 2018 will herald Audi's first pure-electric model that will hunt sales from Tesla's Model X SUV with a similar 500km range.

The company's Brussels production site will build both the SUV and its batteries and the model will be the start of “another electrified car each year,” said Mr Stadler.

Little is known about the model at this stage, but an electric SUV is likely to share DNA with the Q6 concept that debuted at the Frankfurt motor show in 2015.

The flourishing line-up will be fuelled by increased production from Audi's new Mexican manufacturing facility in San Jose Chiapa, which will go live with Q5 production in the second half of this year, allowing existing factories to reallocate resources.

“Our model and technology initiative will ensure our growth of tomorrow,” said Mr Stadler. “Electrification and digitisation represent an historic shift. We will play a large part in shaping this change and will thus further enhance our strong position.”

On home turf, the company continues to hound its closes rival with 7886 registrations to the end of April versus BMW's 9934.

Audi's cash cattle consists of the Audi A3 small hatchback with 2087 sold so far this year and the Q3 small SUV with a tally of 1453 to its name.

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