Audi Q4 trademark application and new Samsung factory hint at electric SUV

Audi TT Offroad concept front

Audi has ramped up speculation that it is preparing a baby brother to the forthcoming Q6 e-tron by applying for fresh trademark protection on the Q4 name – just as a potential supply site for batteries in Hungary has been announced.

The Q4 registration was applied for on 29th September, a little over five months after Audi originally filed to trademark the badge. It appears Audi is pushing ahead with plans to get a sporty SUV coupe to market, finally delivering the production version of the TT Offroad (pictured) that was first seen at the Beijing Motor Show back in 2014 – and giving it the recently liberated nomenclature of Q4.

Audi officials talked openly of a Q4 project at the TT Offroad’s launch – but the idea was stymied by a bitter dispute with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which also trademarked the name (and Q2 with it) for use on transmission systems. Audi has wasted little time in bringing Q2 to showrooms since the matter was resolved at the end of last year, though, and now it wants to lock down the Q4 badge so it can be used on a rival for the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe.

Intriguingly, Audi’s fresh application came barely 24 hours before Korean technology giant Samsung SDI confirmed that it will invest 400 billion won (£273m) in a new battery factory in Hungary. The facility is scheduled to open in the second half of 2018 and will be able to produce enough batteries for 50,000 EVs per year.

Audi TT Offroad concept front

The proposed site for the plant is in God near Budapest, around 90 minutes away from Audi’s TT production base in Gyor, where the existing TT is made. The move raises the possibility that Audi’s sporty TT-based SUV could be built at the same facility as its coupe and convertible stablemates – and that the supply chain is being put in place for at least some of the Q4 line-up to feature electrification.

This could mean a pure-electric Q4 e-tron, but it’s more likely to mean plug-in hybrid technology. The TT Offroad concept, which was based on the VW Group’s MQB platform, had an electrically driven back axle and the ability to travel around 30 miles on electricity alone. More modern battery tech could feasibly drive this range up to the 50-mile mark – and allow Audi to see off likely hybrid versions of the X4 and GLC Coupe.

Audi has confirmed already that Samsung SDI will join LG in supplying battery cells to its EV projects. However, the Q6 e-tron’s production run is likely to be reasonably modest – allowing the new Samsung facility, and LG’s recently announced plant in Wroclaw in Poland to supply a hybrid sports SUV that could be sold in much greater numbers.

Audi and Fiat Chrysler are not the first two car manufacturers to show an interest in the Q4 name, incidentally. BMW registered Q4.S as long ago as 1999 – but the registration lapsed in autumn 2009.

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