Audi is committed to launching hybrid vehicles, but according to the automaker's chief executive officer, Rupert Stadler, the company is being rather cautious when it comes to giving battery-powered autos the green light. Recently, Automotive News Europe (sub. req.) caught up with Stadler and questioned him about Audi's electric-drive future. Audi's CEO responded with this, "We will start with the launch of a Q5 hybrid in Europe this spring, the A6 hybrid follows at the end of the year and an A8 hybrid in 2012."
However, when ANE prodded Stadler about Audi launching pure electric vehicles, the CEO's response was comparatively vague:
Audi will launch the limited production (i.e., less than 1,000 units) battery-powered R8 at the end of 2012 and will conduct field tests with its A1 e-tron this summer in Munich, but beyond that, Audi's electric game plan is basically unknown.
We are still in the early phase with the electric vehicle, in terms of commercialization and whether the cars will be sold or leased, or will just be a collector's car.
First of all we have to industrialize the lithium-ion-battery. This is happening with the hybrid cars which now have the role of a bridge technology.
We should not overplay euphoria for electric vehicles. Our industry is in the middle of a system change and we still have a lot of challenges to solve.