Audi Sport confirms high-performance plug-in hybrid models

The company says electrification is its foundation.

Audi isn't leaving its high-performance Audi Sport division out of its electrification offensive. As it takes on more independence, Audi Sport is preparing to release an array of eco-friendly models including mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids developed with an eye on performance, and electric cars.

"Electrification is the foundation of Audi Sport," explained Oliver Hoffmann, one of the carmaker's co-directors, during a media roundtable held on the sidelines of the 2019 Frankfurt auto show. Pressed for more details, he pointed out the fourth-generation RS 6 and the second-generation RS 7 bring electrification to the range; both use a 48-volt mild hybrid system to keep fuel economy in check.

Looking ahead, Audi Sport will release plug-in hybrid models capable of driving on electricity alone for short distances. This ability will allow electrified RS cars to cruise through a crowded urban center without summoning a dark cloud of disapproval from regulators, but the electric part of the drivetrain will also inject more horsepower into the driveline when the occasion calls for it. "[The hybrids] will be on the performance side," Hoffmann added. "We will offer them in the future," he said without giving a specific date. For what it's worth, the plug-in variants of the A7 and the A8 are due out in 2020.

That's not all; Audi Sport is also working around the clock to turn the Porsche Taycan-derived E-Tron GT concept introduced during the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show into a production model. Its launch is tentatively scheduled for the second half of 2020, possibly in Los Angeles once again, and it will arrive in American showrooms in time for the 2021 model year. Audi confirmed the sedan won't change significantly on the path to production, and that's a good thing. We drove it in the City of Angels, and concluded it felt a lot like a four-seat R8 with an electric powertrain.

The salvo of electrified models will help Audi Sport expand its footprint around the world, especially in key markets like the United States and China. The firm also plans to release RS-badged models faster than before. All told, it hopes to double its 2018 annual sales of about 30,000 cars by 2023.

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