Audi has revealed plans for a new all-electric four-door sports car, the e-tron GT, which is expected to rival the Tesla Model S when it launches in international markets early next decade.
The new model was confirmed during the company’s annual press conference as one of the 20 electrified models that will feature in its line-up by 2025.
Audi chairman Rupert Stadler said: “We interpret sportiness very progressively with our fully electric e-tron GT, and this is how we will take our high-performance brand Audi Sport into the future.”
Production of the e-tron GT, which Audi says will be ‘highly dynamic’, will take place at its Bollinger Hofe site in Neckarsulm, Germany.
Like sister brand VW, Audi is committed to massively expanding sales of electrified models in the future.
On the issue of the cost of developing EVs, Stadler said “co-operation with Porsche” on the new electric car platform, called J1 internally, has “reduced development costs by three digit million Euro amount”.
Stadler also revealed that all core Audi models with be offered with “at least mild hybrid” engine options. “The switch to the WLTP [the new industry fuel economy test] cycle is proving extremely challenging but we are currently doing type approval for engine and gearbox variants,” he said.
Stadler said the changes would include the launch of “10 new sporty SUV variants” for the important Chinese market – seven of which will be made locally and four will be electric.
The Chinese premium market has turned heavily towards SUVs and Audi’s Q models accounted for half of all Audi sales in the country last year. A long wheel-base version of the Q2 will also be launched in China this year.
Interestingly, Audi’s CFO said that ‘one third’ of the engine and transmission options offered on the current A3 range had not been sold, so the new A3 would see a cost-saving reduction in transmission options. CFO Alexander Seitz also hinted at an additional model series alongside the new A3 “aimed at younger buyers” without giving further details.
Much of Audi’s powertrain changes come in light of the diesel scandal, which Stadler said made 2017 a “very challenging year”, alongside Audi’s sales stumble in China.
“The diesel issue is taking up significant time and it is not yet over, but we are working untiringly the on technical issues, but the clarification of legal issues will take more time,” he said. “We regret the uncertainty for our customers and employees but we have learned from our mistakes.”
Stadler also said that the company’s whistleblower system had been overhauled, and that ‘integrity and regaining trust’ were future top priorities for Audi.
Aside from its line-up changes, Audi announced that it had recorded record profits in 2017. Profit was up by 57 percent to £4.15 billion (around Rs 37,000 crore) despite the fact sales were up by just 0.6 percent on the year before.