Audi, the luxury car unit of the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG), has announced plans to make electric cars within the next ten years.
In a recent interview, Chairman Rupert Stadler said that he saw great opportunities for electric cars, and expects diesel and battery technology to dominate in the next five to ten years, saying, “By then we will offer cars without exhaust emissions.”
When challenged with the idea that Audi was lagging behind rival German car giants Mercedes and BMW in the development of Li-Ion battery technology, Stadler stated that their research capacities were larger than those of domestic rivals. Without elaborating, he also said, “electric cars offer great opportunities, which we have already seized on.”
This mention of a superior research budget may indicate that Audi intends to throw money at developing a more lightweight, longer range battery than is currently available. Perhaps the most likely showcase for an all-electric vehicle might be a variant of the Audi A1 Metroproject Quattro concept showcased at the Tokyo Motor Show last October. This gas-electric hybrid boasted acceleration of 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds and a top speed of 124mph.
It’s hard to know exactly what to make of Audi’s strategy. Perhaps they’re planning some big alternative power train project that they’re reluctant to talk about, or else the announcement was calculated to be deliberately vague in an effort to wrong foot competitors, or dupe the press (us) into talking about them without actually committing to anything. Either way, ten years is a long time in the auto industry, and it’s possible that the relentless rise in oil prices may force them to show their hand sooner than that.
written by PlanetThoughts, May 12, 2008
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