Autocar.co.uk is at the launch of the new Audi A8, which has just been unveiled.
During the launch event, Chas Hallett spoke to Rupert Stadler, Chairman of Audi.
Will there be a hybrid A8?Yes. We are working on a full hybrid solution for Audi and we’ll be announcing something in spring 2010. They probably won’t be diesel hybrids though. We’re starting with a hybrid Q5 with lithion-ion technology.
What about a four cylinder A8?Why not? But this is not a question for engineers, it’s a question for the customer. I’ve driven a four-cylinder A8, so it’s possible, but customers are also asking for a 12-cylinder version. In the current A8 we made a 199 g/km version, but it hasn’t been attractive to customers.
What about other environmental tech?We want to take out weight and want to further diesel and FSI technology. We can still improve fuel consumption. In fact, the average fuel consumption in the new A8 has fallen by 20 per cent. But we will not position Audi as a green car brand - we will fulfil regulations - but we are also an emotional brand.
How about electric?We see hybrid as bridging technology to electrification of the car. But we don’t know if it’s five, 10 or 20 years away. The next step is to learn a lot more about it. We have to optimise performance of electric cars. Performance is part of our emotional appeal, so it’s very important. Electric power will also give Quattro more possibilities, such as powering the rear axle like in the A1 concept, or four wheels in motors like the E-tron. In fact, we want to launch a production E-tron in small volumes at the end of 2012.
Will the integration of Porsche into the VW Group change Audi’s plans?Audi has a clear product portfolio and a clear strategy with or without Porsche. Engineers are now talking about a lot of things with Porsche. We would work without them, but Porsche will make it better.
How about making cars in the US?In the long run we need to make cars in the US, but it needs to be the right product for the market. There’s no sense in exporting 80 to 90 per cent of them back to Europe.
How’s Audi doing at the moment?2010 will be another growth year for Audi, by how much depends on how the market develops. I don’t think that we will see 2007 sales levels again until 2012. But Audi has got momentum and the product is accepted. The luxury market will start growing again in the mid and long-term. But there’s no doubt that it will come back again. It will be a big fight but that’s the nature of the market.