Audi’s electrification blitz gets underway

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Editor’s note: This story is part of the annual Automotive News “Future Product Pipeline” series.

Audi’s expansion of its battery-electric lineup will begin next year and will continue for at least the next four years as the German luxury brand adds battery-powered, all-wheel-drive sport sedans, crossovers and perhaps even supercars.

Over that period, however, Audi intends to add mild hybrids to many of its existing turbocharged models, boosting power and fuel efficiency. The brand also promises that future BEVs will have a more competitive range than its first offering, the E-tron, which debuted last year.

To do so, Audi is developing vehicles from Volkswagen and Porsche electric architectures for its future offerings.

A3/S3/RS 3: The redesigned 2021 A3 sedan’s U.S. arrival was delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak and related production shutdowns. The sedan and its derivatives debuted this summer in Europe but won’t be in North America until the second half of 2021. The A3’s wheelbase is unchanged, but the car is slightly longer, wider and taller than the current model, and driver headroom is improved. The cockpit has been completely redesigned, dominated by a 10.25-inch configurable digital instrument cluster and a 10.1-inch touch screen now embedded in the instrument panel instead of riding atop the dashboard.

A4/S4/A4 Allroad: The A4, which was freshened in 2019, receives a 12-volt mild-hybrid system for 2021 models that adds 13 hp,

with awd now standard. It is due for a redesign in 2023, based on the Audi product cycle.

A5/S5/RS 5:

Like the A4, the A5 was freshened in 2019 and will also receive a 12-volt mild-hybrid system for 2021, boosting power by 13 hp. It is also due for a redesign in 2023.

A6/S6: A freshened Audi A6 midsize sedan lineup is due to arrive in the U.S. in 2022 and is likely to feature upgraded driver-assistance technologies as well as improved infotainment offerings, along with styling changes. A mild-hybrid system is also expected.

A7/S7/RS 7: Like the A6, Audi’s fastback sedan is expected to be freshened in 2022, given the brand’s product schedule. Look for the addition of a mild-hybrid system as well as improved driver-assistance and infotainment offerings to go along with tweaked styling.

A8/S8: A freshened A8 sedan is due to arrive in the U.S. in the second half of 2021. Look for the flagship to add a mild-hybrid system to improve power and fuel economy and to update to the latest infotainment system. However, the brand has backed off plans to push the A8’s Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities in the U.S., given the fractured regulatory environment here.

TT/TTS/TT RS: The two-seat sport coupe and its derivatives are living on borrowed time, given the costs of electrification in Ingolstadt, Germany. The TT was freshened last year, and the name is likely, though not certain, to live on in a redesign in 2024 that could see the diminutive coupe become a high-performance BEV.

R8: The current V-10-powered supercar is probably on its final ride after a 2019 freshening, at least in its current form. Like the TT, the R8 name is likely to survive, but the powertrain may morph into something else with a redesign in 2024.

Q3: A freshening of the compact crossover is due to arrive in the U.S. in 2023, and it is likely to include the addition of a mild-hybrid system, given the brand’s ambitions to electrify most of the models across its lineup.

Q5/SQ5: A freshened 2021 Q5 midsize crossover and its derivatives will arrive this fall in the U.S., adding extra power to the base engine, improved infotainment and driver-assist systems and exterior styling changes. Audi’s update of its top-selling nameplate in the U.S. adds a 12-volt mild-hybrid system to its 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine, boosting output by 13 hp over the outgoing model to deliver 261 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. A plug-in hybrid version boosts output to 362 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque. Both are mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The more powerful SQ5 keeps its existing V-6 engine and eight-speed transmission.

Q7/SQ7: Coming off a major midcycle freshening this year, Audi’s three-row crossover won’t be due for a redesign until 2024, given the brand’s traditional product cycles.

Q8/SQ8/RS Q8: The two-row sportback crossover went on sale in 2018 and is scheduled to be freshened in 2022, under Audi’s current product cycle.

E-tron: Audi’s first BEV went on sale in the U.S. in early 2019, and its limited range disappointed. Audi took steps this year to improve range through software and packaging changes. A sportback version went on sale this year as well. The crossover will be due for a freshening in 2023, when its range is likely to be expanded further, among other changes.

Q4 E-tron: The full-electric compact crossover is a new vehicle joining the lineup in late 2021 as Audi’s third EV, following the E-tron and E-tron GT. The sportback crossover, built on Volkswagen Group’s modular MEB platform, is expected to offer greater range than its E-tron predecessor. The concept on which the Q4 E-tron is based featured a large rear spoiler to improve airflow that is expected to carry over to the production model.

E-tron GT: The E-tron GT, a battery-electric sportback sedan developed alongside the Porsche Taycan, will join the Audi lineup in the U.S. during the second half of 2021. It is expected to have electric motors on each axle producing a combined 590 hp across its awd system, and it should be capable of a 0-to-60-mph time of 3.5 seconds or less.

Artemis project EV: Audi plans to expand its battery-electric lineup further in 2024 with a new vehicle and platform being co-developed with sibling brand Porsche. However, the details of the high-powered and currently unnamed performance vehicle — including whether it will be a sedan, coupe, crossover or something else — haven’t yet left Ingolstadt.

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