Electric Cars Are Nice, but Audi Customers Still Demand V8s

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
electric cars are nice but audi customers still demand v8s

Did you hear the news? Every automaker worth its salt will switch to electrified, fully autonomous vehicles yesterday.

Bored yet? Very likely so, but the people laying out money for cars still have a say in what vehicles automakers produce, and for high-end buyers, prestige doesn’t necessarily come wrapped in the latest technology from the pages of Wired. Big-money buyers want big power and, while that increasingly means the latest in twin-turbocharged, downsized wonderengines, it isn’t always so.

Audi can’t wait to challenge Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar in the premium electric car race, but there’s no way its customers would agree to the disappearance of a proper eight-cylinder gasoline engine, claims the brand’s technical development chief.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, Peter Mertens, who arrived at his post from Volvo earlier this year, has heard his company’s customers loud and clear.

Oh sure, there’ll be three electric vehicles introduced between now and 2020, with an ambitious goal of one-third of its sales arising from plug-in hybrids and EVs by 2025. Audi is also developing dedicated electric architecture with corporate cousin Porsche. And yes, the brand’s parent company does plan to shed 40 percent of its engine offerings in the near future.

“We will thin out our engine-transmission combinations, but entire engine families might also disappear,” said Mertens. “Do we really need a V-10 and W-12 for the next generation of cars?”

However, one thing won’t be as quick to disappear. And it’s something as American as apple pie, but apparently lusted after across the globe.

“We get questioned about the [future of the] V-8, and in particular the diesel, but I cannot imagine we will do without it,” Mertens continued. “We have a very important group of customers that really wants eight-cylinder engines in larger vehicles. Will it exist forever? No, but [it will] for a rather long time.”

Some time before the VW Group engine cull announcement, rumors arose of a death sentence for the Audi V8. A source said the automaker, given its expenditure on electrified powertrains and vehicle architecture, isn’t likely to drop cash on another V8 engine family. Thankfully, Audi’s new 4.0-liter V8 family, which includes a (European) diesel version with two turbochargers and an electric supercharger, is still an infant. Mertens’ comments should allay fears of S7 or S8 buyers being forced to accept some sort of turbo four/hybrid drivetrain in the near future.

While the V8 seems safe at Audi for the time being, don’t expect to see a diesel return, no matter how large its SUVs grow. Do expect to get used to a 48-volt mild hybrid setup, however. The automaker plans to add the fuel-saving technology to as many as its large vehicles as possible, including its next-generation A6, A7, and A8.

[Image: Audi AG]

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  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Oct 04, 2017

    The premium brands and performance brands are killing their themselves if they abandon interesting internal combustion engines in favor of electrics and small displacement 3 and 4 cylinder turbos. Nothing electric or with 3/4 cylinders can touch the sound of a well tuned boxer six, straight six, V-8, or V-12, nor can any 3/4 cylinder be as smooth. If the premium brands can't brag about offering more cylinders than mainstream brands, then they lose one of the most important and differentiating premium feature associated with the these brand.

    • See 2 previous
    • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Oct 04, 2017

      @mcs The problem with electric motors is the sound is about the same across the brands/types, and not very loud anyway. Expense and technical advancement is not easy or perhaps even possible to demonstrate with electric motors, so the basis for charging a premium price erodes.

  • A4kev A4kev on Oct 04, 2017

    Yes there's not much that can curdle the blood like the sound of a nasty V8.Audi does it pretty well.

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