Audi failed to serve a full-electric vehicle of any kind at the Frankfurt motor show despite both BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and sibling carmaker Volkswagen showing off all-electric offerings.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the show, chairman of the board at Audi AG Rupert Stadler (below) hit back at suggestions the competition has been allowed to get the jump on the four-ringed brand.
“If we are going towards the electrification of the car, even Audi we do it in a different way to BMW,” he began.
“We decided that out of our feedback and studies, 150km electric drive in the inner circle of the city, Co2 neutral, is perfect, but no customer wants to sacrifice range.
“He wants to have the freedom and security, if he wants to go further he has everything on board. And this decision we took at Audi, let’s be a little bit different.”
Although Audi displayed the hybrid sportquattro and Nanuk concepts at the show, BMW had the all-electric i3 (with the option of a range-extender engine), and Mercedes-Benz showed the B-Class Electric Drive.
But Stadler argues that with the Audi A3 e-tron buyers have the flexibility of using electric power for the city with the option of travelling long distances using the internal combustion engine.
“I think within the automotive industry now we have a lot of experience now within the last few years, and Audi has decided to go the way of the e-tron concept, so electric drive with combustion engine, because we are a strong believer that our customer wants to have the range,” the Audi AG boss reiterated.
“So we are different to BMW, we are different to Volkswagen. Porsche also positioned yesterday the plug-in hybrid as a sporty plug-in hybrid. We showed the plug-in hybrid as a very efficient one in the compact segment [with A3 e-tron]… this type of technology will enter into the MLB platform structure which is coming next.
“So if it comes to a battery-electric vehicle it would be easy within the Volkswagen Group to do something similar for Audi, but we think that with our concept now in the phase one of electric vehicle technology we are right…”
“Whatever comes in the future, we will see…”
In the sports car segment, however, BMW also debuted the i8 hybrid and Mercedes-Benz has earlier revealed the SLS Electric Drive, while Audi has ditched plans to build the R8 e-tron.
“When it comes to supercars … you need power, you need range, you go on a test track and this is what you feel,” insists Stadler, who stated a lack of popularity in addition to the already-stated range issues as reasons not to build the R8 e-tron.
“Maybe there can be types of hybridasation like we did in Le Mans, but a pure electric racecar I think will have a very small group of customers.
“Tesla started also with a small electric sports car, but when it comes to range you are always limited.”
But a hybrid sports car from Audi such as the BMW i8 will not arrive until the “mid term” future according to Stadler. “2015-2016 you will really see it and feel it [more e-trons].
“What we have shown today with the Audi sport quattro this is what we see in the future. You have a powerful engine on board, but nevertheless you have an electric drive concept that allows you to go 50km, in say, Los Angeles, Co2 neutral.
“But we combine … ecologic things with powerful things.”