Audi is investing in a full list of new models, both electric and internal combustion engines. Like the rest of the Volkswagen Group, and the industry in general, Audi is planning a future that will ultimately be all-electric cars. But during the transition, the automaker is allocating the same amount of resources to next-generation vehicles on a new, customized platform with upgraded powertrains centered around the internal combustion engine.
We traveled to Ingolstadt to get a better overview of Audi’s strategy and a sneak peek at the upcoming models. Board members said Audi will have 20 electric cars globally from 2023 to 2027, up from eight now, which means new nameplates as well as electrifying the existing range. It would be a real party, says Oliver Hoffmann, a member of the Audi Technical Development Board. No new ICE models will be introduced after 2026; Only new cars you’ll see from Audi will be battery electric. After 2033, Audi will build and sell electric cars all over the world except for China.
The majority of non-electric vehicles
While other automakers are already redirecting the bulk of their resources to EVs and allowing existing ICE models to run their course, Audi will still meet the needs of the majority of buyers not ready to go all-EV.
We can’t offer full details of the new vehicles on the immediate horizon yet, but we can tell you that Audi is equally committed to both streams of product development: EV and ICE. Future models are split between two new custom platforms to support different powertrains and take advantage of the different layout and packaging options that each offers. Separating the platforms creates opportunities and means there are no compromises, says Mark Licht, Audi’s head of design.
Audi of the future gas engine get a new platform
There will be successors to many of the existing traditional models in Audi’s lineup, but they will transition to a new architecture known as PPC (Premium Platform Combustion). It is designed to accommodate a variety of internal combustion engines and installations including mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and performance variants. This means that subsequent models will move from VW Group’s MLB architecture to PPC.
To meet global emissions regulations, the latest round of PPC models will use new, more efficient combustion engines — sort of. The engineers kept the same block and upgraded from there.
The fate of the Audi R8, TT, the potential large SUV Q9
Hoffman says PPC is scalable and could even manufacture large SUVs, but he wouldn’t discuss the Audi Q9 SUV rumored to be in the works.
What will not have a successor to ICE: the Audi A1 and the small Q2 sold in Europe and will be phased out. The two-seater Audi R8 and Audi TT will also take off at sunset, but Hoffmann didn’t reveal the timing. He says not all decisions are made. Audi has plans and other entry-level vehicle concepts that it’s working on to fill the void—think EV.
Custom electrical engineering from Audi for more E-Trons
Future E-Tron electric vehicles will come from the PPE (Premium Platform Electric) architecture developed with Porsche and Bentley. This means there are no more Audi electric vehicles from the VW Group’s MEB platform that supports the VW ID family of electric cars.
We don’t expect to see the first batch of new PPE-using E-Trons until fall 2023, on sale later that year in Europe and arriving in North America in 2024. Current E-Trons (E-Tron SUV, Sportback, GT Fastback, Q4 E-Tron and Q4 E-Tron Sportback coming in the next few months) are not on PPE.
We expect the Q6 and A6 E-Trons. Audi previously said there would be gas and electric versions of the A6 and showed the A6 E-Tron Concept at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show that it’s described as 95 percent production ready, complete with a Fastback roof line that looks more A7 than the A6. There’s also spy footage of both the sedan and SUV.
If you like concepts, you shouldn’t be disappointed when production models roll out. We will provide full details as soon as Audi releases them. To preserve Audi DNA, we fully expect EVs to be offered with a single-engine rear-wheel drive and dual-motorized quattro all-wheel drive. In terms of body styles, Audi is best known for its sedans, wagons, SUVs and sports cars, and we expect future E-Trons to be offered similarly.
Audi capable off-road with the help of scouts
One of the new areas the brand is exploring is the more rugged SUV. VW Group has taken the Scout name and is building a new brand around it with a platform for SUVs and pickups that can venture off-road. An executive tells us that Audi is intrigued and is looking at whether using the Scout platform could expand Audi’s footprint, but no decisions have been made. There is no timing for decision making.
And it’s not a new idea: Audi showcased its AI: Trail quattro electric off-road concept at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. The addition of the Scout branding provides a platform to make musings a reality. If an Audi slipped this bumpy road, the off-road Audi would likely come from the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, making it the first US-built Audi.
At the other end of the spectrum, we’re not likely to see convertibles reach production, a segment where there isn’t much of a market.
A new electrical and electronic architecture for infotainment and connectivity, which relies more on software to better add and update features, will be shared by both systems. Hoffmann says that seeing the car as the sum of its systems, as opposed to the sum of its components, changes how Audi develops cars. Volkswagen’s CARIAD software unit has created a software platform, the foundation upon which each brand can rely on its own premium technology and options.
Audi concepts outside this field
Audi has also been teasing us with triple ‘sphere’ concepts. The Grandsphere is a Fastback luxury sedan while the Skysphere is a two-door convertible with a wheelbase that grows and contracts depending on whether you’re driving or the autonomous drive system takes over. Urbansphere, a large, minivan-like MPV designed to transport people in major Chinese cities. It got us wondering: Will there be a fourth field next year, in line with the four rings of the Audi logo?
In either case, the sphere concept series was not designed as an introduction to production models, but as design and technology templates from which future compounds could be derived. They provide a clear view of the direction of Audi’s interior and exterior design, especially when there is a level 4 autonomy.
production and profit
Hoffmann says Audi wants to sell 3 million cars by 2030, at a profit margin of 11 percent as the automaker limits its products at the lower end and expands at the higher end. Inventory is still a problem. Audi officials say the semiconductor chip crisis will abate, but shortages will continue to hamper auto stocks for the rest of the year and possibly into 2023. The issues with wire sourcing have been resolved.
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