Audi Sport boss Stephan Winkelmann says the division’s first electrified cars, due to arrive by 2025, are likely to be SUVs or limos, for packaging reasons.
Winkelmann said that Audi’s performance arm, which was rebranded from Quattro Sport late last year, will grow its range from 10 to 16 models by 2020, before progressing to developing battery-powered machines.
“Between 2020 and 2025, we have to start electrification,” said Winkelmann, the former boss of Lamborghini. “The first step for me is not in the shape of an R8, but it might be an SUV or a limo, where we have a higher degree of forgiveness in terms of packaging, room and power-to-weight ratio.
“When we speak about electric cars, if you ask me if I want to have them all [powertrain types], I’ll say ‘yes, I want plug-in hybrids, hybrids, whatever is available’. But if I have to pick one, and hit the target immediately and do a lot of things with one shot, my first choice would be a battery electric vehicle.”
Speaking at the launch of the Audi R8 Spyder V10 Plus at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Winkelmann added that it was unlikely that an electrified version of the Audi R8 would be produced – but said such technology would likely appear on its eventual successor.
“We now have one car which is ours [Audi Sport’s], which is the R8. If nothing is changing, we have the opportunity for the R8 to do the next single shot. But if I have to be honest, with the view and knowledge I have today, it’s going to be the follow-up to the R8.”
Winkelmann said that Audi Sport would draw on electrification technology being developed by Audi and elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group, saying: “If it maintains the DNA of what Audi Sport should be today or for the day after tomorrow, then we have to pick whatever it takes from all the shelf platforms that are available in the group.”
The rebranding of Audi Sport last year has drawn comparisons with Mercedes' performance arm AMG, but Winkelmann said the firm had a different proposition, and would not necessarily chase AMG’s volume. Audi Sport will launch two new models at this year’s Frankfurt motor show, and Winkelmann said the focus for future cars was on developing global models.
“We’ll concentrate more and more on those cars which are sellable around the world, and which have an equal distribution worldwide,” said Winkelmann. “If we invest in a local car, say for the European market, we may sell a third as many as if you put it in the right [global] segment.