A discussion with the Technical Project Manager of the RS5 suggests all is not lost for the combustion engine.
We've been in Spain, specifically at the Ascari circuit, for the track launch of the new and improved Audi RS5 Competition, but you'll need to wait for October 6 to find out what it's like to drive. In the meantime, there's plenty else we can talk about.
Over a couple of crisp local cervezas, Ugur Yeter told us that the combustion engine may exist in Ingolstadt well beyond 2030. He's the Technical Project Manager behind the Audi RS5, so he's in a good position to make such a prediction. But how is this possible if the brand is going all-electric soon and encouraging its rivals to chase similar goals?
A number of reasons suggest the continued existence of the internal combustion engine is worth holding out hope for.
Some context: in March 2021, then-CEO of Audi Markus Duesmann announced that the automaker had stopped developing new combustion engines in order to meet the upcoming Euro 7 emissions regulations that had not yet been decided upon at the time. A few months later, a report from Reuters claimed that the executive had quietly announced a full-scale switch to EVs from 2026. All of this seemingly spelled doom for the combustion-powered Audi, but the reported announcement of the 2026 switch was never officially confirmed.
Regardless, a lot has happened in the year-plus since these reports. For a start, the European Union has agreed that combustion power will continue to be legal if synthetic fuels can be made truly carbon-neutral. Another factor is that Duesmann has since been replaced by Oliver Blume, who also runs Porsche.
The Zuffenhausen-based automaker has been working on synthetic fuels for some time now and Blume is what Europeans would call a true petrolhead. Finally, Audi has announced a 2026-onward entry in Formula 1, and this is sure to produce cleaner engine technology and smarter fuels with lower emissions.
There is no doubt that Audi wants to be as efficient as possible, ASAP. But that doesn't have to mean all-electric.
Back to our conversation with Yeter in Spain. He told us that there is a "90/10 chance" that the internal combustion engine will live on well beyond the end of the decade. He noted Blume's arrival at the helm of the company too.
When revisiting what his colleague, Constantin Dressler, had said earlier in the day (that Audi Sport will not downsize any further), Yeter noted that the twin-turbo V6 still has "plenty of potential" for greater performance and efficiency.
Obviously, hybridization will play a key role in reaching performance and carbon-neutrality goals, but the main point is that this engine will be around "probably beyond 2030, hopefully further."
Yeter also revealed that the next A4 sedan, the B10, will be based on the C9 Audi A6. Sharing that platform means high-performance hybridization with little additional development work.
That shorter development cycle will surely help Ingolstadt reduce its carbon emissions, further improving the combustion engine's chances of continued survival. The A4, A5, RS4, RS5 (and more) will all benefit.
Although Audi has now officially committed to putting a permanent end to combustion power by 2033, this announcement came before the provision for synthetic fuel was allowed for by the EU's future regulations. Considering that F1 could bring great yields, the existing V6 is pretty efficient and will only get better, and the company is run by a man who has a passion for excitement, don't be surprised if a few years are added to that number.
All we're saying is this: take careful note of the B10 A4 and A5 when they arrive in 2025. These will give us clues as to the future of the brand, particularly its performance vehicles. There remains yet a glimmer of hope that the combustion engine will live on deep into the next decade.