Audi’s plans for petrol-electric hybrids are on hold indefinitely following a decision to postpone the hybrid Q5.

Autocar revealed in July that the Q7 would not get a hybrid powertrain, with the company deciding to focus on more efficient diesels and cutting weight from its cars.

Now the Q5, which was next in line for the technology, won’t be available as a hybrid either. Senior sources said: “Audi won’t produce a petrol-electric hybrid until we can make nickel metal hydride batteries safer in crash situations, and hybrid technology more efficient overall. Until then we will concentrate on producing more efficient diesel engines and aluminium chassis.”

The Q5 will now be fitted with a stop-start system, and could get further fuel-saving technology. Audi’s answer to BMW’s Efficient Dynamics initiative won’t get a specific name, as the company wants to promote the belief that the improvements are a natural part of its technical progress.

The new technology could make its debut on the A1 supermini, due in 2010, but development is sufficiently advanced that it could be added to existing models next year.

Vicky Parrott