Audi will reportedly dramatically cut its research and development budget as part of cost savings brought about by the Dieselgate saga, and this includes an end to development of the company's signature longitudinal engine platform.
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The latest edition of Der Spiegel claims that Rupert Staedler, Audi's CEO, will soon unveil a new plan for the luxury brand that includes an end to company's in-house MLB component set for front- and all-wheel drive vehicles with a longitudinal engine.

At present, MLB underpins every Audi from the A4 through to the A8, as well as the Q5 and Q7 SUVs.

New-generation small vehicles, including the A3 and Q2, all use Volkswagen's MQB platform for front- and all-wheel cars with a more traditional transverse engine layout.

If this report is true, the next generation version of the volume-selling A4 and A5 ranges will switch from a longitudinal to transverse engine layout. In all likelihood, this will mean that the Audi A4 and A5 will once again be very closely related to the Volkswagen Passat.


Above: Next-generation Audi A8 undergoing testing with the latest MLB platform.

Meanwhile, larger vehicles, such as the A6, A7, and A8 will move over to the MSB toolkit developed by Porsche for rear- and all-wheel drive cars. This means that, for the first time, mainstream Audi models could be offered with rear-wheel drive.

With prototypes for the 2018 A7 and 2018 A8, based on the latest MLB architecture, already spotted doing the rounds in Germany, the switch to a rear-wheel drive platform is still likely to be at least eight years away.

The German publication also believes that if a third-generation Audi R8 is approved, it could be based on the Porsche 911.

Audi's plans for new crash testing and wind tunnel facilities will also be shelved as part of this cost cutting manoeuvre. According to Reuters, the luxury marque will also be forced to shelve plans for autonomous driving test track, battery facilities, and a technology campus at its headquarters in Ingolstadt.

All of these changes should help the Volkswagen Group shave costs in the wake of the Dieselgate saga, and also help fund the group's aggressive push into electric vehicles.

So far the Volkswagen Group has set aside 17.8 billion euros ($26.2 billion) to deal with Dieselgate-related costs, including fines, recalls, fixes, and litigation.