Audi unveiled the Q4 E-Tron and its swoopy Sportback sibling a little a month ago as more premium alternatives to the Volkswagen ID.4 / ID.5 and the Skoda Enyaq / Enyaq GT. It represents the company’s first dedicated electric SUV as the E-Tron and China’s Q2 L E-Tron started out on platforms originally intended for vehicles with combustion engines.
The man in charge at Ingolstadt sat down and had a chat with Autocar about the Q4 models and how Audi is adapting for the inevitable electric era. CEO Markus Duesmann hopes the zero-emissions SUV will become the firm’s best-selling product, but the Four Rings aren’t entirely sure it will happen. Should there be extremely strong demand, the company’s boss says production capacity at the Zwickau plant in Germany can be increased.
However, Audi’s CEO says the firm shouldn’t “stretch too much for lower entry segments” given its premium positioning and the fact the VW Group has quite a few mainstream brands catering to the segment of the market looking for a cheaper EV solution without paying extra for a luxury brand.
Duesmann admitted the expansion of Audi’s EV lineup will come at the expense of vehicles powered by combustion engines as the number of ICE-powered cars will decrease, although not by much. The traditional powertrains won’t be retired in the foreseeable future, even in the Euro 7 era during which it will be more expensive to engineer gasoline and diesel units to meet the stricter emissions regulations.
Audi’s CEO labels plug-in hybrids as “technical overkill” due to the implementation of a combustion engine and an electric motor for a vehicle that still isn’t carbon neutral. It’s why the German automaker is intensifying its EV efforts, but PHEVs are sticking around since “the needs of our subsidiaries and our customers force us to do that.”
During the same interview with Autocar, Duesmann projected battery-related costs are going to decrease by 50% by the middle of the decade. As for the electric motors, they’ll eventually become smaller, more efficient, and cheaper to build, though Audi cautions “it’s not an easy technology” to develop.
As a final note, the CEO admitted it’s unlikely the A1 supermini and Q2 small crossover will get a new generation, but Duesmann vows to remain in this segment with different models. Reading between the lines, he is likely referring to pure electric vehicles.