GENEVA--Audi plans a rapid expansion of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles over the next few years as a key component in Volkswagen Group's strategy to dominate the alternative-power train market by decade's end.
Michael Dick, Audi's board member for technical development, told Automotive News that the next-generation A6 sedan will have the potential to be a full hybrid by the end of 2012. The A6 would join the recently introduced hybrid A8 sedan at the Geneva auto show and the soon-to-be-launched Q5 hybrid crossover.
Hybrid capability may stretch to each part of Audi's lineup by the end of the decade. By 2020, Audi wants to increase the efficiency of its internal combustion engines by 30 percent and wants 5 percent of the brand's lineup to be electric, Dick said.
The challenge with electric vehicles "is to make all of these things possible for series production," he said.
"In the future, our customers will be able to choose from an increasingly broad range of driveline technologies," Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said in Geneva.
"We shall offer electric power in the best possible forms for a wide range of mobility needs. The hybrid driveline will be followed by all-electric vehicles.
"The e-tron name will have an important part to play. Just as 'quattro' has become a synonym for all-wheel drive, so 'e-tron' is to be the Audi brand name for electric mobility."
Audi recently set up a division to develop and produce a range of high-priced e-tron electric cars starting in 2012. The brand's electric-car approach is different from that of rival BMW, which is developing smaller vehicles designed for urban commuting.
Parent VW Group wants to be No. 1 in hybrid and electric cars before the end of the decade, increasing its electric-vehicle market share to 3 percent of its fleet by 2018.
Globally, VW Group plans to launch a full-electric version of its Up minicar, the E-UP, the E-Golf, and the E-Jetta in 2013. To get ready for those debuts, VW will debut a test fleet of 500 electric Golfs globally next year.
For now, only the Jetta electric will go to the United States, VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn said.
He said: "We will take the hybrid out of its niche status with our high-volume models."
(Source: Automotive News)