If you assumed that car manufacturers had by now exploited every potential product niche, think again.

Audi is busy creating an additional roster of sports utility vehicles, with an emphasis on the ‘sports’ part of the equation and sleek, coupé-like styling.

Crowning Ingolstadt’s line-up in terms of both size and market positioning will be this new Audi Q8, which is set to sit shoulder to shoulder with the A8 as Audi’s flagship models. Even in concept form, as seen in Detroit, we’re left in no doubt that the subsequent production version of the Q8 will be unmistakably, and somewhat predictably, ‘Audi’ in its execution.

Wallet-worryingly poor fuel economy has been a bugbear of large SUVs in the past, but clever use of hybridisation is going some way to alleviating that. As a result, expect the Q8 to be offered with a raft of cutting-edge powertrains.

Granted, it will be quite a big car for our roads, although rivals such as the BMW X6 and Range Rover don’t fare too badly here, do they? However, Audi’s primary focus with the Q8 will be chiefly on markets such as China; as long as the thirst for large premium SUVs continues there, the German manufacturer should be laughing all the way to the bank.