Confirming that both an ultra-luxury Q8 SUV and all-electric crossover are in the works, Audi is launching an offensive on the SUV market with the intent of overtaking BMW as the world’s largest premium car company. This new focus on SUVs, as well as a few other new models, will take Audi’s portfolio from 52 to 60 vehicles by 2020.

“Globally, we will respond proactively to the growing number of customers who enjoy SUVs’ higher driving position and their sense of enhanced safety.” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler told Automotive News Europe in a recent interview. “We already decided to go smaller with the Q1 and to go bigger with the Q8. Regardless of the size of the SUV, we strive to be the most sought after model in the segment. For example, the transaction price for a Q7 is very similar to our A8 because our SUVs are not utilitarian off-roaders, they are true premium vehicles, particularly in terms of interior fit and finish.”

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Audi could also bolster its small SUV lineup with a production version of the Audi TT Offroad Concept (possibly called TTQ) introduced at the Beijing Motor Show. Stadler says the concept was well-received, but no production decision has been made. If it does get the green light, it will be built on the Volkswagen Group’s next generation MQB architecture, meaning it’s still more than five years off.

And what about a premium compact minivan positioned against the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive? Apparently, Audi isn’t interested. “Consumers are more likely to switch to an SUV and are more likely to pay a premium price because SUVs are considered more emotional,” Stadler said when asked about an Audi minivan. “We would rather be the emotional choice than the rational choice.”

Why it matters

The Volkswagen Group is investing over $26 billion in Audi over the next five years, 70 percent of which will go towards new-model development, as well as lightweight technology, better driver connectivity and new drivetrain technology, including e-fuel and electric vehicles. Facilities at Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm will also receive updates to accommodate the new models.

If you read between the lines of all this, its not hard to conclude that China will be Audi’s biggest target market over the next five years, where demand for premium cars and SUVs is anticipated to continue growing. A vast electric car infrastructure is in the works there as well, which dovetails nicely with Audi’s all-electric SUV crossover due in 2018.

Audi TTQ

2018 Audi TTQ High Resolution Exterior
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The production version of the TT Offroad Concept has reportedly received the green light, but under the TTQ name.

You can read our speculative review of the TTQ here.

Source: Automotive News

James Wolfcale
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