Audi plans to have a plug-in hybrid variant of each of its key models by 2020, and the firm's research and development boss Ulrich Hackenberg has revealed further details about how the plan will be implemented.

Hackenberg was speaking at the launch of the A3 Sportback e-tron, which he described as “a benchmark for other plug-in hybrids”. He said Audi had decided to prioritise plug-in hybrids over other forms of alternative powertrains, because “they meet all of our customers’ expectations”.

He revealed that Audi is developing two plug-in hybrid powertrain families. Future models based on the MQB platform would be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain mirroring that of the A3 e-tron. This features an electric motor sited between a transversely mounted 1.4 TFSI petrol engine and a specially developed six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which sends drive to the front wheels. 

He added that four-wheel-drive versions of MQB-based models might also be offered using the petrol-electric set-up to drive the front wheels and an electric motor mounted on the rear axle.

Larger Audi models mounted on the new MLB-Evo platform and with longitudinal engines would use a similar system, with the electric motor mounted between the engine and gearbox. Hackenberg said quattro versions of these plug-in hybrids were also possible, using either a mechanically or electrically driven rear axle. 

He also said he thought the A1 e-tron range-extender EV was a flawed concept. “If you are going to incorporate an engine with enough power to supply the batteries, it might as well be driving the wheels also,” he said.

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