By on July 19, 2016

2017 Audi Q7 Grille, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Audi is apparently about to embrace electric vehicles with all the intensity of a daughter greeting her father on the tarmac after the war.

According to Reuters, company sources say the automaker plans to make EVs account for 25 percent of sales by 2025 — a move that would erase the environmental stigma of its parent company and challenge Tesla in the fledgling luxury EV field.

The same sources say Audi CEO Rupert Stadler will unveil the plan to 2,000 managers behind closed doors tomorrow. Details of the Munich meeting were published in the German newspaper Handelsblatt.

To reach that lofty target, sources say Audi plans to divert one-third of its research and development funds towards electric vehicle development, digital services and autonomous driving technology. From a sales perspective, it means finding buyers for 450,000 electric vehicles every year (going by last year’s sales tally).

Going this route would be a risky venture for Audi. Electric vehicles are still a new entry in the automotive landscape, with sales hampered by higher costs, limited vehicle range and recharging infrastructure. It’s hard for any automaker to guess the potential demand.

To free up more money for EV development, Audi will cut back on its gasoline and diesel expenses, the sources claim. That would mean fewer engine and transmission offerings, but Audi already seems to be going in this direction. Earlier this month, a report said the automaker will stop developing new V8 engines. (If it wants to, it can source those powerplants from Porsche.)

If true, Audi’s electric push would free up Volkswagen to focus on hydrocarbon-powered volume vehicles while still allowing its parent company to repent for its emissions scandal sins.

[Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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40 Comments on “Audi Planning Massive Electric Vehicle Gamble: Report...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    Audi: Vorsprung durch Electronik!

    • 0 avatar
      Ooshley

      Elektronik. Germans don’t have a hard c. But “Leading through electronics” makes them sound like Samsung. I think Elektrik, maybe Elektrisches, or even Elektrizität would be better (admittedly my German is rudimentary at best).

  • avatar
    Ugliest1

    As has been said so many times before, in so many internet postings: “Audi – the world leader in EV press releases and ‘plans\'”.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I’m pretty sure Tesla is the king of plans, followed by FCA.

      “Elon Musk’s 10 point plan for global auto domination. #7 will make you FREAK OUT!”

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        nah, FCA takes the cake. The Stronzo in the Sweater’s “Five Year Plans” change every year. Tesla’s plans don’t change very often, aside from moving dates around on the Gantt chart.

        FCA is a house of cards, and a stiff breeze is on its way.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        The secret to Elon Musk’s success? Lots and lots of crack.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Smart move. Turbocharging & making the ICE burn cleaner is not going to get any cheaper or simpler, at least until they crack the HCCI code. Battery/EV tech is about as simple as it gets, and battery tech/efficiency keeps improving and getting cheaper. It’s a no brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      There’s still plenty of development opportunities for batteries. Improving energy density (energy/mass and energy/volume), temperature insensitivity, longevity, and recharge rates all could use some work.

      While I expect few revolutionary breakthroughs, even with incremental improvement there’s a good chance that by 2025 the general consumer will realize battery EVs fit their needs & make sense, and there will be a sharp uptick in sales. I don’t see Audi hitting their EV sales targets before then.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    You’ll have to excuse those of us with older Audis with dashboards that light up like Christmas trees if we are a little skeptical of Audi’s ability to develop a quality EV.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I’m a mere American who has only visited Europe, but I think that EVs are generally a better proposition in Europe than the U.S. BMW is already “all in” and I don’t think the U.S. market is the reason, even if they’ll sell anything they can here.

    Until we get range levels of close to 750 miles (10 hours at 75 mph) and chargers at every hotel chain and restaurant chain, I don’t see EVs working for most people here.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      750 is really overkill. About half that would be enough for most people at one time. There will be still be ICE vehicles for people to buy or rent for occasional road trips.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Unlike ICEs, more range in an EV has a direct & large impact on price & practicality.

        Let’s say 750 mi range needs a 200 kWh battery (probably larger). At $200/kWh, that’s $40k just for the battery. Plus, such a battery would weigh almost 3000 lb by itself. And then there’s the shear volume it will occupy–say goodbye to cargo volume.

        EVs have to play a balancing game of enough range to meet a high enough percentage of enough people’s driving needs to be practical, but no more. IMO, 200 mi is close to that number, so car makers should be cautious going above it.

        I have to agree with others about eating/bio breaks on road trips. If you stop every 3 hr anyway, then you only need range to cover 3 hr and then recharge while you take care of business. If you absolutely need to have an EV for a road trip (again, I agree to just get a rental), then a much better solution is the mini-trailer with a generator as a range extender.

        It’s a mistake to think every car has to be the same. EVs have their niche, and in the future they will fill it. But gas/diesel will have their niches, too, so there’s no reason to expect they will disappear in our lifetimes.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          “It’s a mistake to think every car has to be the same. EVs have their niche, and in the future they will fill it.”

          I think the biggest market currently for EVs is homeowners who need a 2nd or 3rd vehicle.

          A lot of people can’t get past the paradigm’s of an EV, mainly charge time. Doesn’t matter if it takes 14 hours to refuel because you don’t wait until it’s empty to refuel it. If you do arrive home with an almost fully depleted battery, guess what? It doesn’t have to be fully charged to leave again.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            I would contend that less time is needed to charge an EV than refuel with gas because there’s no driving to/from a gas station, and recharging consists of plugging it in & going about your life. Since you can eat, sleep, watch TV, etc., while it’s charging, only the time needed to plug/unplug it count, which is a few seconds most days.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      What ICE car (or bladder) can go 750 miles?

      Maybe a diesel (soon to be extinct). My hybrid can go 680 miles on paper, but farther in reality.

      This straw man argument (“until we get range levels of close to XYZ miles…”) has been posted for years.

      Filling time is a key issue for traveling, as well as availability – which Tesla is solving, and Audi is not.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Many larger European sedans with 80liter gas tanks (21 gallons) with smaller engines can do 35+ mpg, so 700 is a possiblity even in many gas powered cars. With diesels it’s hardly even a challenge.
        That said, Teslas does not seem to have any range problems here in Norway, despite the cold weather and hilly terrain, and most people can survive with Leafs or E-Golfs unless they’re going on a road trip.
        My ‘shaped like a brick’ CR-V with it’s 15 gallon tank can barely compete with a Tesla, but it only takes me 5 minutes to refill it…

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Yea, range anxiety can be wiped out with faster and more abundant charging stations (like gas stations)

          Problem is the infrastructure needed to move all that juice as well as the danger of Joe or Jane Sixpack handling high amperage high voltage charging devices. As well as the lack of standardization of charging apparatuses.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Massive problems with EV’s range anxiety , infrastructure and time recharging

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @RobertRyan: Massive problems with EV’s range anxiety , infrastructure and time recharging

            That’s pretty much BS. – depending on where you live. I’m putting 23k+ per year on my EV. The charging time really isn’t much of an issue other than long road trips.

            Most of the time it’s like owning a perpetual motion machine. You don’t stand next to the vehicle squeezing the handle of an electric pump. You’re off doing other things like sleeping. You don’t have to go out of your way fuel it like an ICE car. Yeah, it may take 5 minutes to fuel an ICE, but that’s time I don’t have to spend standing next to the car pumping in fuel.

            Road trips can be an issue. Charging locations are getting more numerous around New England. I spent the weekend at the beaches in southern Rhode Island last week and stayed where I couldn’t charge overnight. On the way down, I quick-charged at a combo Chademo/CCS charger at a Dunkin Donuts in East Greenwich Rhode Island. From there, there are chargers located at many of the beaches in Rhode Island. The trip home was boosted by a free quick charge at a Nissan dealer in North Attleboro MA. I actually sat at that charger for 40 minutes. It wasn’t the car that was the issue – it took me that long to get through my email.

            It was about 260 to 280 miles of driving and if I didn’t have a no-charge-to-charge card, the quick charge would have cost maybe $8.00.

            I made a similar trip to Vermont a couple of weeks ago and it cost me nothing. I actually stayed at a hotel with both quick charging and level 2 right outside my room. Since I was staying overnight, I just plugged into one of the numerous 120v outlets in the parking lot to leave the faster chargers available for drivers passing through.

            I daily drive an EV and I’m managing to rack up a lot of miles. I know what it’s like first-hand. It’s not as bad as it seems. Still, it’s not for everyone. Audi is looking forward in their planning. In the early 2020’s we’ll see 300 to 400-mile range and Audi is a leader in 800v charging which will cut charging time in half.

            As far as safety goes and the high amperage, it really isn’t a problem. I’ve plugged in without a problem even in driving rain. When you plug in, the EVSE performs checks on the connection and the car before turning on the juice. Even then, it ramps up the power gradually. They’ve really done a good job with the charging. CHAdeMO connectors are a bit large and can be little difficult, but CCS isn’t as bad. If people have issues, there are third party inductive charging systems available. Telematics that text you if you forget to plug-in or if the charge stops are really helpful too.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            mcs, how has maintenance been? Have you observed any battery degradation? How does it do in the cold?

            Also, the concern I see with battery safety is after a crash where a cut line may lead to rapid discharge, such as when cutting the car to extract people. There’s also a fire hazard if the battery shorts. That said, neither of those problems is more dangerous than gasoline.

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      EVs won’t work for me until I can buy a used one for a few thousand bucks that will provide the same functionality as a similarly-priced conventional vehicle. (No way am I willing to go into debt for a new car, or to take 5 figures out of the bank for one.)

      A range of 300-400 miles with recharge time of 10-15 minutes would work fine.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @mcs
        “That’s pretty much BS. – depending on where you live. ”
        I would have to say, your experience is the BS as very few people have taken up EV ownership in the US. Where you live is a huge factor in why people avoid EV’s. I cannot see any fundamental change going forward, in fact EV take up could stall

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @slance66
      Audi has not abandoned diesels

      ” Audi will launch an all-new SUV limousine to sit alongside its most expensive sedan at the top of its line-up. The co-flagship role of the new uber-crossover dubbed Q8 was confirmed by Audi boss Rupert Stadler.

      Stadler confirmed the SUV will be positioned alongside the A8 as the flagship of the brand’s SUV family when it goes on sale in late 2018

      The all-new A8 will be seen at October’s Paris Motor Show.

      The Q8 will go head to head with models like BMW’s X6, the Range Rover Sport and Mercedes-Benz’s GLS and top-end GLE variants. It will start with 3.0-litre TDI power and move all the way through to the SQ8 variant with two turbochargers and an electric compressor.

      It is just one of seven new SUV models Audi plans to launch before 2020, including the all-electric, battery-powered Q6, which was shown at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show in the guise of the e-tron Quattro concept.

      With a third of Audi’s sales now starting with the letter Q, the Q8 will join a fleet that already includes the just-launched Q2 city crossover, the Q3, the Q5 and the new Q7. The Q1 and Q4 families are solidly in their development phases.

      “I could imagine an executive being driven to work every day in their A8 and then spending the weekend driving themselves in their Q8,” Stadler told Autocar.

      “The Q8 will have global appeal in all of the major markets — Europe, China, America, Russia and more — so we are very excited about it.”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…and challenge Tesla in the fledgling luxury EV field”

    By 2025, the luxury EV field won’t be ‘fledgling’ any longer, and Tesla will be a 22-year-old company that’s been building EVs for 17 of those years.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Isn’t there a country or two in Europe that are proposing to ban ICE power cars? In light of that, Audi’s move is rational.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Norway wants to stop sales of new ICE cars by 2025. But with only 5 million people who mostly drive 10 year old cars I doubt many manufacturers will lose any sleep over it. Having finally test driven a Tesla (my neck still hurts), and generally prefering cars that are older than myself, I’m definitely not going to lose any sleep over it.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    This is interesting. I of course have no way of knowing whether this is Audi vaporware, as has been mentioned above, or actual future.

    Sportyaccordy mentioned why it makes sense for Audi – there is a limit to ICE and turbocharging, and they have got to ‘innovate.’

    But it makes sense for me as a buyer. I happened upon a v6 A4 and am enjoying its ownership. It has not been cheap to maintain, but it has not been expensive. For someone like me, this has been one great relationship.

    But I am not rich, and while I am ready to equate 2.0T with sporty, I am not ready to equate it with luxury. I cannot afford v6 Audis in the current landscape. And I would not maintain a used german car if it has a four cylinder engine. In that sense, a used Audi EV would restore that “i’ll pay to maintain if I drive a different enough, proto-luxury car” balance I have now.

    Weird metaphor by the way, the opening line.

    And I disagree with the writer that this would be “a risky venture” for Audi. Expensive maybe, to resolve charging infrastructure.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      That’s an excellent description of the state of luxury cars right now. The less expensive, more stressed, engines can be seen as the question mark purchase. Meanwhile, the higher trim 6’s and 8’s are probably/certainly more expexpensive to maintain, but because they seem to have moved up the price ladder it’s almost a moot point. If you can take over a grand a month just on payments are you really going to care about maintenance costs? Are those buyers really going to own their cars outside of warranty? Double nope.

  • avatar
    Tandoor

    Everyone is going to have so many EVs in “the future”. I’m almost tired of hearing it. Even Nissan is all talk at this point. When the lease runs out on the Leaf, I’m thinking my choices will be Leaf or Miev (lol).

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @tandoor

      There may be a 140-mile range upgrade battery coming. We *might* even be able to move to 200-miles depending on advances in battery technology. A used Leaf with a fresh 140-mile battery might be an interesting alternative to a new 200-mile car. The current upgrade is maybe $5500. The 140-mile battery might not cost much more. Add to that maybe $8k for a used Leaf to put it in.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Chevy Bolt goes into production late this year. Tesla specs at Buick prices, albeit either a Tesla or a Buick is prettier. Should be at a Chevy dealer near you by Jan 2017. See you there.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @hotpotato: Hyundai Ioniq with 200-mile range is coming as well, but not as soon as the Bolt. With a 200 mile range, I’d almost never need any sort of public charging. For people that can charge at home, a 200 mile Bolt will be a virtual perpetual motion machine. Plug it in every night and visiting a public charging station will be a rarity.

        That silent torque is awesome too. I still say the best part of an EV is the driving experience. People can debate all day about EV issues, but in the end, it’s all about the driving experience. Instead of a clattering GDI 3 or 4 cylinder with a CVT and turbo, you get a small car that feels like it has a smooth and quiet V-8 under the hood.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Ford is also hinting at jumping into the 200 mi EV segment.

        I see a lot of industry interest, but timing is a big question mark. Will they jump into the market by 2019? Doubtful, but will they be here before 2025? I really think so.

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