Things are about to kick into high gear.
Audi has been selected by its VW Group parent company to be its technology leader in regards to battery advancements, platform development, and autonomous driving. Other brands will benefit as well, though Audi will get first dibs. This will get underway in 2024 when the production-ready EV from the highly secretive Project Artemis is revealed. Above all, VW wants Audi to give Tesla a run for its money and it is budgeting billions of dollars to make that happen. But if Audi is to become Tesla's biggest rival, shouldn't it also become an entirely EV brand?
According to German publication WirtschaftsWoche, that appears to be the case. Just don't expect it to happen in the next few years.
Audi CEO Markus Duesmann stated that he is aligning the luxury brand towards sustainability and is working on a schedule to phase out internal combustion entirely. This transition timeline will supposedly be ready in just a few months and will include specific target dates for the phase-out that will last 10 to 15 years. "Environmental protection and economic success go well together," Duesmann said.
The first mainstream Audi model expected to ditch its combustion engine is the overseas-only A1, which makes sense given the fact it's a supermini intended for city dwellers. Still, adapting an all-EV lineup won't be easy for numerous reasons, among them what to do with facilities devoted to building combustion engines and related parts.
Battery-electric powertrains, as we know, require far fewer components and, therefore, fewer factory workers. Duesmann must also take into consideration charging infrastructures. Countries likely won't coordinate their efforts to get these up and running at the same time - and it's not like Tesla will be willing to let Audi join its own impressive charging network.
Above all, Audi's current lineup still relies entirely on combustion, save for the Audi e-tron SUV and upcoming e-tron GT sedan. Presently, Audi has 12 plug-in hybrids but plans are in place for nearly 20 all-electric vehicles by 2025-2026.