Audi enters electromobility’s fast lane

Audi enters electromobility’s fast lane

audiAudio aims to add three electric vehicles to its range by 2020.

For 2018, an electric SUV is scheduled. It will be followed by an electric compact model and, at a later point in time, offerings for the midsize segment. The carmaker’s chief executive Rupert Stadler announced the model at a board meeting over the weekend, although he did not elaborate on the timeline. “Hydrogen fuel cell technology is not dead,” he added.

Audi’s intent to invest massively into electromobility is in line with the carmaker’s shift in focus to electrification and autonomous systems. This focus on high-tech green solutions comes in the wake of the larger Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions scandal that rocked the company last year.

Within two to three years, users can expect “several” plug-in hybrids; by 2020 three purely electric cars will be available from the Ingolstadt, Germany-based carmaker; and by 2025, Stadler expects a share of electric cars in Audi’s sales of 25% to 30%. Quite a remarkable share, given the fact that today the Volkswagen subsidiary has not a single electric model in its catalogues.

The target market will be China in the first place. However, Stadler is convinced that the charging infrastructure in Europe and in Germany in particular will be greatly expanded so that drives will no longer incur range anxiety. In lockstep with the expansion levels of the charging infrastructure, the demand for electric vehicles will rise, he said.

Stadler also spoke on Audi’s plans for automated driving. The company differentiates between fully automated driving and something Audi calls ‘piloted driving’. The latter already allows the driver to take hands off the wheel and eyes off the road at speeds up to 60km/h (37mph). This feature will be available in the A8 flagship model scheduled for 2017. Gradually its capabilities will be enhanced to enable drives at higher speeds, Stadler said.

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