Audi boss says ‘nein’ to all-electric vehicles, commits to plug-in hybrids instead

Back in June, we reported that Audi was drawing up blueprints for a wide range of electric vehicles (EVs), such as SUVs, sedans, and high-performance sports cars.

The Audi R8 e-tron was slated to lead the German brand’s charge into the EV market, but now it appears Audi has changed its tune.

Speaking to What Car, Audi chairman Rupert Stadler said, “We have tested the [EV] technology, but we have always been clear that, from a customer’s point-of-view, plug-in hybrid technology is best.”

Stadler believes that plug-in tech combines the best aspects of electric vehicles and conventional cars: savings at the pump, extended driving range, and environmental conscience.

“Plug-in technology gives efficiency and it gives range,” he continued. “I’ve spoken to Tesla customers, and they say that if the plug-in Audi Q7 was available that is the car they would choose. We are confident we have chosen the right path; an electric car that lives only in the showroom does nothing for the CO2 agenda. We want to build cars that sell.”

While Stadler’s explanation of a plug-in’s benefits are sound, a man named Elon Musk may have an issue with that last sentence. Tesla has sold over 31,000 Model S units since its debut in 2012, surpassing all of the small company’s sales goals.

Still, plug-in hybrid vehicles aren’t all that different from their gas-chugging counterparts, which makes them relatively cheap to make. Unlike an EV that requires a whole new powertrain, hybrids can be built in a similar production line and use many of the same parts.

“By sticking to proven vehicles we have flexibility,” said Stadler. ‘We can build plug-in cars in many of our factories, and on many of our existing cars, very quickly.”

Stadler also confirmed Audi is planning plug-in hybrid versions of the A6, A8, and Q7 SUV in the coming years.

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