Audi's Q5 hybrid program has apparently been revived again with a production launch coming as soon as late next year. In a change from the usual pattern, this one is expected to launch in the U.S. market before the rest of the world gets it. Aside from Japan, the U.S. has shown a greater appetite than anywhere else for hybrids and we will determine if the European market gets a taste as well. Audi powertrain development boss Wolfgang Hatz told Automotive News Europe that the Q5 hybrid is needed to compete with the likes of the Lexus RX450h and the upcoming BMW X6 hybrid.
In spite of the decision to proceed with the Q5 Hybrid for the U.S. market, Audi still believes that diesel is the best path for its vehicles. For the vehicles that Audi is producing, diesel is a more cost effective solution, especially considering the expected sales volumes. According to Hatz, it costs Audi about 50 percent more to develop a diesel powertrain compared to a conventional gas system. A hybrid powertrain costs 3-4 times as much to develop. If the demand for hybrids begins to significantly increase, the business case could change, but for now, Audi's focus will remain on TDI.