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Audi SUVs to be the brand’s first hi-po EVs: report

Sole survivor: Currently, Audi only offers one RS-fettled SUV – the 2.5-litre five-cylinder RSQ3 small SUV.

Initial all-electric Audi Sport models to be SUVs, says Audi Sport’s Winkelmann

Audi logo30 Jun 2017

WHEN Audi starts producing electric performance models for its Audi Sport range, the first examples will likely come in the form of SUVs or limousines due to their easier packaging and better power-to-weight ratio, according to a report by British publication Autocar.

Speaking to Autocar at the Goodwood Festival of Speed for the launch of the Audi R8 Spyder V10 Plus, Audi Sport CEO Stephan Winkelmann said the brand’s halo performance models such as the R8 would not be the first to experience electrification.

“Between 2020 and 2025, we have to start electrification,” he said. “The first step for me is not in the shape of an R8, but it might be an SUV or a limo, where we have a higher degree of forgiveness in terms of packaging, room and power-to-weight ratio.

“When we speak about electric cars, if you ask me if I want to have them all (powertrain types), I’ll say ‘yes, I want plug-in hybrids, hybrids, whatever is available’.

“But if I have to pick one, and hit the target immediately and do a lot of things with one shot, my first choice would be a battery electric vehicle.”

Winkelmann also added that by 2020 the Audi Sport range would grow to 16 models, up from 10.

There currently only exists one SUV in the Audi Sport range – the RSQ3 small SUV, while the brand’s upper large limousine, the A8, only comes in a slightly less-brutal S8 Plus variant.

The all-new A8, which will feature a mild hybrid powertrain, which could be a nod to a move towards electrification, is due to land in Australia in the first half of next year.

Audi will use electric vehicle technology being developed by parent company Volkswagen Group, as long as the technology can replicate the performance required of an RS-branded Audi vehicle.

Despite the second-generation R8 launching with an all-electric e-tron version, which has since been discontinued due to slow sales, the electric technology would not feature again on the current flagship Audi Sport model, according to Mr Winkelmann.

“We now have one car which is ours (Audi Sport’s), which is the R8. If nothing is changing, we have the opportunity for the R8 to do the next single shot,” he said.

“But if I have to be honest, with the view and knowledge I have today, it’s going to be the follow-up to the R8.” He also revealed that two new Audi Sport models would be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September, with possible contenders being a new RS4, an updated RSQ3 with Audi’s all-aluminium block 2.5-litre five-cylinder, or even an RS variant for the second-generation Q5 medium SUV.

Mr Winkelmann also added that Audi Sport would put a focus on developing models that were not region-specific, but could be sold as global products.

“We’ll concentrate more and more on those cars which are sellable around the world, and which have an equal distribution worldwide,” he said.

“If we invest in a local car, say for the European market, we may sell a third as many as if you put it in the right (global) segment.”

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