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Audi Exec Hints at the Possibility of a Plug-In Hybrid R8

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【Summary】During a recent conversation with Motoring Magazine, Audi’s head of Product and Technology Communications, Ekkehard Kleindienst, hinted at the possibility of a plug-in hybrid RS model joining the company’s product range sometime in the future. Audi will also introduce plug-in hybrid variants of its Q3, Q8, and A3 models.

Manish Kharinta    Sep 22, 2020 8:00 AM PT
Audi Exec Hints at the Possibility of a Plug-In Hybrid R8
The Audi R8

German premium automaker Audi is diligently updating its electrification strategy. The company recently slashed prices for the 2021 e-tron lineup of electric SUVs, which is Audi's first-ever all-electric offering. 

During a recent live stream, top executives of Ingolstadt-based Audi also confirmed that the company will introduce plug-in hybrid variants of its Q3 and Q8 SUVs, and A3 models, but also commented on the possibility of a hybrid RS sports car.

In the U.S., Audi offers hybrid variants of its A7 Sportback, A8 sedan (long wheelbase) and Q5 compact SUV. However, the growing popularity of battery-powered EVs has not deterred Audi from exploring new frontiers of its hybrid technology. 

During a conversation with Motoring Magazine, Audi's head of Product and Technology Communications, Ekkehard Kleindienst, vaguely hinted at the possibility of a plug-in hybrid RS model joining the company's product range sometime in the future.

While discussing the company's new PHEV models, Kleindienst commented that "These are really born and bred RS models...coming with a plug-in hybrid powertrain."

The carmaker intends to use its plug-in technology to enhance the performance of its internal combustion power plants and thereby its performance sedan segment offering. 

In the past, performance car companies like Porsche, Ferrari, and McLaren have used similar approaches while developing their flagship hypercar products.

audi-phev-modelle-februar-2019.png

Audi has also confirmed plans to continually develop its hybrid drivetrain technology for years to come. 

Hybrid models are versatile and a lot more cost effective to develop than their battery-only contemporaries. This is likely the reason that has encouraged Audi to continue investing in the segment, while other automakers focus on electrification. 

Audi's Quattro sub-brand will design the all-wheel-drive systems for all future hybrid models. The automaker engineered its plug-in hybrid drivetrains with the electric motor positioned between the combustion engine and the gearbox. 

Audi execs also disclosed that its small and midsize offerings will use four-cylinder motors, while a V6 engine will power the larger models. 

According to the most recent EPA estimates, the Audi Q5 can offer 20 miles of all-electric driving range whereas A7's range is rated at just 18 miles. Although the company is currently improving its battery technology. 

Audi claims that its next-generation hybrid models will feature more compact battery packs that will offer higher energy density. 

Based on Audi's claims, we expect the driving range of the upcoming PHEV models to improve by about 33%. The upcoming models will also get improved charging capability, which will make it more convenient to recharge the new high-capacity battery packs. We expect that Audi will offer these battery packs in its next-gent EV models. 

Audi is currently road-testing the new Q4 e-tron prototypes. The all-electric crossover will share its modular vehicle architecture with the upcoming Volkswagen ID.4. 

The new fully-electric 2021 Audi Q4 e-tron will make its global debut sometime later this year.

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