Hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology will only be a “bridging technology” for around ten years, according to Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, until full electric driving becomes more mainstream.
“Hybrid and plug-in hybrids are a transitional and bridge technology for about the next ten years,” said Stadler, who said he expected electrified cars, including hybrids, to account for 20-25% of all sales by 2025. "In parallel we will offer various battery-electric models in different volume series models until 2025. But, of course, only the customers can decide the sales mix between electrified and conventionally-engined vehicles."
Audi has already committed to produce its first fully electric SUV, the Audi Q6 e-tron, with a range of 500km (310 miles) from 2018. It will be built at a new factory in Belgium, alongside Audi’s battery plant that will produce batteries developed with its partners, LG and Samsung.
Speaking at Audi’s annual press conference, Stadler also said the firm saw “great potential in fuel-cell technology”. Audi has been charged with leading the VW Group’s hydrogen technology research, and has already produced the Audi h-tron concept car. Stadler added that the tech will “come out of research into series production in the coming years.”
Stefan Knirsche, Audi board member in charge of technology, revealed that Audi already spends more than 10% of its R&D budget on electric mobility, added: "Our development spending will focus on the fuel cell as we do believe it can play an important role in future, but this requires the necessary infrastructure. So in the meantime we will focus on battery-electric car investment."
Stadler’s comments come after VW Group chairman Matthias Mülller announced at the Geneva motor show that the firm was planning to launch a 500km, 15-minute charge family electric car that costs less than a conventionally-engined vehicle by 2025.
The Audi A3 e-tron will soon be joined by a Q7 e-tron in Audi's lineup, while a next-gen hybrid powertrain is currently under development. The Q6 e-tron was confirmed for production earlier this year.