Audi planners are hoping to decide on which of three prototype versions of the maker’s popular TT model to put into production. And the odds are good that it will feature a plug-in hybrid drivetrain by the time it reaches showrooms.
Though the German brand was slow to embrace electrification, it is now trying to make up for lost time. But where Toyota has positioned itself as the “hybrid company,” Audi wants to go the next step, focusing its efforts on advanced plug-in technology, said the brand’s chief executive.
“You will see from Audi a lot of plug-in hybrids in the future,” promised CEO Rupert Stadler during an interview at the Paris Motor Show.
They will cover a wide swath of the maker’s line-up, from the entry-lux A3 on up. And where many manufacturers – such as General Motors, with the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt – are primarily focused on using plug-ins to yield significant improvements in fuel economy, Audi is focused on balancing mileage and performance.
The Audi TT Offroad concept revealed during the Beijing Motor Show earlier this year can punch out a solid 402 horsepower through a powertrain package pairing a 2.0-liter turbocharged gas engine and an electric motor. It also can deliver 31 miles on battery power alone.
But is Audi getting out ahead of its buyers? That is very much a possibility, the executive acknowledged, cautioning that, “We have to see if the customer is going with us.”
There’s growing pressure in all key markets to boost mileage while lowering emissions. But just how far the industry can go while continuing to produce affordable vehicles that meet consumer demand is uncertain. Last week, Stadler’s boss, Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn, warned that a further reduction in European CO2 emissions levels could be “fatal” for the industry.
(Audi set to select from three new TT concepts. For more, Click Here.)
That said, VW has made a corporate-wide push to electrify. Even supercar maker Lamborghini and ultra-lux brand Bentley are coming to the table. The British brand is planning to offer a plug-in version of the new SUV it is developing. And the Italian maker used Paris as backdrop for the unveiling of its Asterion LDP-1. The most powerful Lamborghini ever, at 907-hp, it relies on a V-8 paired with three electric motors.
(Click Here for details on the best car deals available right now.)
Audi’s plug-in push will become even more noticeable as the maker ramps up its entire line-up. According to Stadler, the goal is to increase its current model range from 50 to 60 vehicles by decade’s end.
(To see why dealers are at odds with a recommendation for a single interest rate for car buyers, Click Here.)
The decision to offer a plug-in version of the A3 is controversial, if for no other reason, because that end of the market is extremely price sensitive. At the other extreme, buyers of models like the A8 may be more willing to absorb the premium for the battery technology.
The added cost “doesn’t matter” as much, said Stadler.