Audi is the latest major automotive brand to announce it will eliminate internal combustion engines from its line-up, the German luxury marque set to go 100% electric by 2033.
Audi was an early proponent of electrification, first with a mix of hybrids, plug-ins and then, two years ago, bringing its first long-range battery-electric vehicle, the e-tron, to market. It’s rapidly expanding the line-up with models like the e-tron GT sports car and e-tron Sportback SUV.
It’s been widely expected that Audi would go the next step, and CEO Markus Duesmann made it official, revealing the new timetable during the annual Climate Neutrality Foundation conference in Berlin. “With this roadmap,” he declared, “we are creating the clarity necessary to make a decisive and powerful transition to the electric age. We’re sending the signal that Audi is ready.”
Investing $86 billion
Audi parent Volkswagen AG has itself laid out the most aggressive commitment to battery power of any global automaker, the German giant planning to invest $86 billion by 2030. That figure also includes autonomous and connected vehicle technologies. By decade’s end, VW’s dozen different passenger car brands intend to bring at least 70 BEVs to market worldwide.
The company is growing its sales rapidly, demand for products like the e-tron and the Volkswagen ID.4 last year reaching half of what segment leader Tesla delivered.
The group aims to leverage scale to cut costs and gain even more ground. The majority of the various VW battery-electric cars will share the flexible MEB architecture. That will be used by Audi in the Q4 e-tron and Q4 e-tron Sportback.
But Audi is working with high-line siblings, including Porsche, to come up with its own modular platforms. Moving forward, Audi will have four BEV architectures, including the MLB, basically a more sophisticated version of the MEB, used in the e-tron, e-tron Sportback and e-tron S. The e-tron GT will share the same, underlying J1 architecture as the Porsche Taycan.
Longer range, increased performance
The even more advanced PPE platform will follow. Like the others, it will rely on a skateboard-like design with batteries and motors mounted below the load floor. It will be capable of traveling 400 miles or more — using the global WLTP test process — on a single charge. The PPE will be able to draw power from next-generation chargers delivering up to 270 kilowatts at 800 volts. It’s targeted at mid to full-size and ultra-premium product lines.
The automaker showed of a prototype A6 e-tron concept in April, a production version set to be first, or, at least, among the first, to use the PPE which is scheduled to go into production late in 2022.
According to Duesmann, Audi will continue producing vehicles using internal combustions engines through 2033, and all of them will be electrified by then in some form or another. In fact, the brand doesn’t plan to produce any new models that will run solely on gas or diesel by 2026.
Transition getting underway
The changeover process is set to get underway. There will be no gas-powered versions of the Audi A3 and A4 models once the current lines run their course. They will be replaced by the new A3 e-tron and A4 e-tron, according to Automobilwoche. The current A5 and A6 models are also expected to follow that path.
Audi actually will be the second Volkswagen Group brand to go all-electric. In May, Bentley announced it will sell only PHEVs and BEVs as of 2026, and the plug-ins will be dropped by 2030.
A number of competitors are taking a similar path, General Motors “aspiring” to sell BEVs only by 2035.