If the past few years have been about the launch of practical, everyday plug-in hatchbacks and sedans, next year is undoubtedly going to be the year of the plug-in SUV, with market debuts of Tesla’s long-anticipated all-electric Model X full-size SUV, Volvo’s high-end 2016 XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid, BMW’s X5 e-Plug-in Hybrid, and the expected unveiling of a production plug-in hybrid Range Rover from luxury marque Jaguar Land Rover.
But now you can add another plug-in model to the rapidly growing plug-in SUV market: the 2016 Audi Q7 e-tron. At least, that’s what UK automotive magazine AutoExpress claims after it says insiders at Volkswagen’s luxury arm have confirmed that Audi is bringing a plug-in hybrid variant of the full-size SUV to market next year.
The vehicle — which will use the same 316 horsepower, 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine and 70 kilowatt electric motor used in Porsche’s Cayenne S E-Hybrid — will go on sale next year at the same time as Audi launches the all-new, second-generation Q7. Following Volkswagen’s modular MLB design platform, which ensures a common engine and component mounting system across a wide range of vehicles, the MBQ platform makes it possible for the Volkswagen group to easily and quickly develop a wide range of different drivetrain options for the Q7, from all-electric through to diesel, petrol and even hydrogen fuel cell.
While not all of these options have been confirmed however, it’s worth noting that the Audi A7 — which we saw at last week’s LA Auto Show with a plug-in hydrogen hybrid drivetrain option — is also based on the MLB platform set to be used for the 2016 Q7, so Audi already has access to a plug-in hydrogen hybrid drivetrain for the Q7 should it wish to build one.
Although Autoexpress didn’t confirm any further specifications beyond the drivetrain and an expected 300 kilogram drop in weight, we’d guess that the Q7 will use the same 10.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and level 2 on-board charger found in the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid in addition to the same powertrain.
This would translate to an all-electric range of around 22 miles per charge and an electronically-limited all-electric top speed of 78 mph, with higher speeds requiring use of the car’s likely eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission up to a top speed of around 155 mph.
The second Audi to be offered with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, the Q7 e-tron will not only bridge the gap between high-cost, gas-guzzling SUVs and high-efficiency electric vehicles but also enable Audi to massively lower its fleet-wide fuel economy figures thanks to an expected combined fuel economy figure of around 80 mpg.
Interestingly too, AutoExpress says its insiders promise that plug-in hybrid technology is the way Audi is heading for the next ten to fifteen years, citing the convenience of a plug-in hybrid in the event that a charging station is already occupied.
“If you have a range of fully electric cars and you sell a lot of them, recharging becomes a real issue,” the magazine’s insider said.
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