Audi’s CEO has some fighting words for Tesla.
It sucks feeling left behind doesn't it? In fact, the sour taste it leaves is bad enough for Audi that it's investing $3.3 billion in electric car technology. That's because out of the three big German luxury automakers, BMW is the one leading the charge towards electric vehicles and Audi wants a piece of this pie. Previously, Audi had ambitiously announced that it 25% of its car sales would come from fully electric models by 2020, and now CEO Rupert Stadler has outlined the intermediary phase of that plan.
Speaking at Audi's annual general meeting, Stadler said "Starting in 2018, we will launch another electrified car each year". Given that the Q7 with an e-Tron drivetrain is slated to hit the market in 2017 with an estimated 500-mile range to boast, Audi may be serious about this promise. The problem with his phrasing is that the term "electrified" is fairly general. It can mean that the car would be a full-fledged EV or just a hybrid. Green Car Reports thinks that some of these cars will be hybrids, but given Audi's ambitious goal to make 25% of its car sales come from fully electric cars in only four years, this may not be the case. The fact of the matter is that Audi has been flirting with EVs for a long time now.
In April of 2016, Audi's director of battery technology Stefan Neimand spoke at a technical conference and said that he highly commends Tesla for its supercharger network because they did everything correctly for a company trying to make EVs the mainstream. He alluded that Audi may build its own version of the supercharger network for its e-Tron EVs. With a $3.3 billion dollar investment backing up the tough talk, these stations may just come true. With an increased selection of electric vehicles and charging stations to supply them (not to mention the impressive range of the Q7 e-Tron), it seems like Audi is gearing up for a full-fledged electric car war. At least it's still paying attention to its cool V10 vehicles by giving them desirable makeovers.