The luxurious new four-door is expected to be called A9 e-tron and will share much of its technology with the upcoming Q6 e-tron SUV.
The A9 e-tron will have a range of up to 500km (311 miles) between recharging. It is also due to have level four autonomous driving technology — one step up from that used in next year’s new A8.
“By 2020 we will have three EVs in the line-up,” said Stadler. “We’ll start with the production version of the e-tron quattro concept car, which will have a range of up to 500km. By 2025, 25% of our line-up will be battery-driven models.”
Although Stadler is yet to name the A9 e-tron officially, he describes the big electric saloon as being “as high up as possible, in the A8 segment”.
Under an earlier model strategy, Audi had planned to apply the A9 name to a large, conventionally powered four-door coupé to rival the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé and Bentley Continental GT. However, it has been overlooked in favour of the electric luxury saloon, which will have unique styling and the performance to challenge the Model S.
The starting point for the new Audi is the EV platform showcased by the e-tron quattro concept at last year’s Frankfurt motor show. The predominantly aluminium structure differs in design from the one being developed by VW Group sister company Porsche for the production version of its Mission E concept car, which is also due to go on sale by the end of the decade.