Audi’s EV push won’t stop with e-tron quattro

The e-tron quattro concept boasts a 310-mile range and up to 500 hp and 590 pounds-feet of torque in peak power.

FRANKFURT — Audi of America will sell the production version of the e-tron quattro concept for a crossover electric vehicle introduced here when it arrives globally in 2018, and it won’t stop there.

A second EV will join Audi’s lineup some years after that, Audi of America President Scott Keogh said in an interview on the sidelines of the Frankfurt motor show.

In a strategy similar to that of Tesla Motors Inc., Keogh said Audi’s intent is to introduce battery-electric vehicles that provoke desirability, with a long driving range, high design and performance, to fuel consumer demand and command strong transaction prices.

The e-tron quattro concept boasts a 310-mile range and up to 500 hp and 590 pounds-feet of torque in peak power.

“Unlike a lot of other people we feel quite optimistic that if we build the right [battery-electric car], there will be a market,” Keogh said.

Falling costs and improved energy density of EV batteries — meaning less expensive EVs with longer range — will support a viable, demand-driven market for Audi electric cars, Keogh said.

“Our number one thing is not to build a compliance car but to build a cool, desirable car, because that’s what’s going to help our brand and our customers are going to like it,” Keogh said.

Keogh said Audi of America lobbied for the production electric vehicle to be the size of existing crossovers selling well in the market. Its size will be comparable to the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLE class, he said.

Keogh said that EVs will likely account for a quarter or more of Audi’s U.S. sales in 2030 and beyond, partly based on what the company expects to result with future emissions and fuel economy regulations, including California’s zero-emission vehicle sales requirements.

For that, Audi will need more EVs.

“We will need and are actively looking at what is the second” battery-electric vehicle, Keogh said. “There will be more, without a doubt.”

Rupert Stadler, CEO of Audi AG, told reporters here that the automaker is still deciding whether the production electric vehicle will be a stand-alone model or the forerunner for a new model line that will include internal-combustion models.

But Stadler suggested a stand-alone model would best signal Audi’s future.

“There is still some way to go but if you ask me, it’s the icon. It’s the start for Audi into a new decade of auto-mobility and maybe it should be called the ‘e-tron,’” Stadler said. “For me, it’s a statement.”

Audi’s EVs will be preceded by a wave of plug-in hybrids that will be added across its lineup.

For the U.S. market, the A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid goes on sale this fall. A Q7 e-tron diesel plug-in hybrid will arrive after the Q7’s U.S. sales debut early next year, Keogh said.

Another plug-in hybrid is planned after that, likely on the redesigned A8 flagship sedan, which is due in 2017.

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