Volkswagen’s luxury arm Audi is preparing to catch German rival BMW and Californian electric car king Tesla Motors with a range of all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars.
That’s according to Reuters, who cites two anonymous sources close to the company who say that Audi has its sights on capturing the electric vehicle market.
Back in 2009, Audi debuted the R8 e-tron concept car, an all-electric version of its R8 supercar. With a limited range of just over 110 miles, plans for producing the R8 were shelved amidst concerns from Audi’s board that its range wasn’t enough to attract buyers. But this January, Audi confirmed that the R8 e-Tron was back on track after a massive lead in battery technology not only made the car cheaper to produce but gave it a much longer range.
Available from later this year as a ‘build to order’ car, the revised R8 e-Tron will have a Tesla-matching 280 miles of range per charge, along with the kind of performance figures you’d expect from a six-digit sports car. Unlike the original expectation that the R8 e-Tron would be one of a few limited-production electrified vehicles however, it appears Audi is now readying an entire range of electrified vehicles.
Among them, says Reuters, is an electrified version of its popular Q8 SUV. A vehicle which would be marketed as Audi’s answer to the upcoming Tesla Model X crossover SUV, the car would have an all-electric range of around 400 km (248 miles) per charge.
Other electric cars would be designed to compete with other important electric cars on the market today, with plans for a luxury plug-in sedan to cross-shop against the Tesla Model S, as well as a smaller hatchback to compete with compact cars like the BMW i3 and Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive.
While both Audi and its parent company Volkswagen refuse to comment or indeed specific how many plug-in models will be offered, it’s worth remembering that a large proportion of ground work has already been done to make electric Audis feasible.
Of course, there’s the R8 e-tron — but then there’s also the Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron — due in Europe later this year. Built on the same plug-in platform as the Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid, it offers the same kind of performance figures as Volkswagen’s plug-in hybrid Golf, combining sporty gasoline engine performance with plug-in fuel economy.
Then there’s the rest of the Volkswagen stable to consider. Volkswagen’s all-electric e-Up (which we reviewed earlier this year) is currently one of the most efficient four-seat electric vehicle on sale in Europe at the moment. Its larger sibling, the Volkswagen e-Golf, also has exceptional fuel economy for a vehicle of its size and class.
With Volkswagen aiming to be the global electric car leader by 2018, it’s hardly a surprise that Audi will want to join in for the ride. But what would you like to see in an electric Audi? And how much would you pay?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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