The model will slot between the Q5 and Q7 and could be called the Q6

Audi has made its intention known to become one of the first companies to launch an electric SUV after announcing plans to start building the zero-emissions vehicle in 2018. Audi’s production facility in Brussels, Belgium will be the site for the electric SUV’s production, as well as the battery that will eventually power the car.

The move to put production of the vehicle in the Brussels plant also means that the A1, which is currently being built in that location, would move to Audi’s facility in Martorell, Spain. Consequently, production of the Audi Q3 will also move from Spain to another one of Audi’s facilities, specifically the one located in Gyor, Hungary.

Audi chairman Rupert Stadler confirmed the production reshuffling in a statement. “The new model distribution will enhance our production efficiency and strengthen all of the sites involved,” he said. “It will allow us to utilize further synergies within the Volkswagen Group and to bundle key competencies.”

It’s not clear at this point which nameplate will be used in the electric SUV, although rumors point to the Q6 as the recipient of the e-tron badge. After all, Audi has previously hinted that the electric SUV would slot between the Q5 and the Q7 so it would make sense for “Q6” to become the SUV’s official name. As far as its size and design, there has been talk that the vehicle will be packaged as a mid-sized SUV with coupe-like styling. Fortunately, none of us would have to imagine what that could look like since Audi is only a few months removed from debuting the e-tron Quattro concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in September 2015.

On the performance front, the SUV will inevitably use batteries that Audi is developing with LG Chem and Samsung SDI, two Korean firms that are well-equipped for the task. All in all, three electric motors are expected to be used, one on the front axle and two on the rear axle with a range of 310 miles on a single charge. That not only fits the configuration Audi envisioned with the e-tron Quattro concept, but it also adds weight to the expectation that the production model would be heavily based on the concept.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

2018 Audi Q6 E-tron Drawings
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It’s interesting that Audi actually released a press release for this announcement when a simple news story would’ve gotten the point across. I’m not Sherlock Holmes, but I do sense that between the lines of this news, Audi’s parent company, Volkswagen, had something to do with it. At this point, we all know what Volkswagen has been through in the past few months. There’s no need to rehash it so I won’t even bother.

But is it possible that the announcement was made in an effort to move beyond the diesel-emissions scandal and paint Volkswagen - through Audi - as becoming more aggressive in its pursuit of embracing cleaner technologies? That is a pretty good way of washing your hands from the DieselGate scandal, right?

I don’t know if VW pushed Audi into doing this or if it was the parent company’s plan all along. What I do know is that from a business point of view, it makes sense for Audi to jumpstart the development of its electric SUV since some of its key rivals in this segment are already doing it and at least one (Tesla) already has its own version (Model X) on the market.

This is a positive development for Volkswagen’s luxury brand as it reinforces the company’s commitment to become a pioneer in the field of electric vehicles. We’ve already seen what Audi has made out of its “e-tron” lineup so hearing that an electric SUV from Audi is close to becoming a reality is another sign that the German auto conglomerate is prepared, if not a little desperate, to move past the worst scandal to hit the automotive industry in years.

Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept

2015 Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept here.

Press Release

Audi is preparing its international production network for the mobility of the future. Large series production of the first purely electric driven SUV from Audi will begin at the site in Brussels in 2018. The plant will also produce its own batteries. The company will transfer production of the Audi A1 from Belgium to Martorell in Spain. The Audi Q3, which is currently produced in Spain, will be built in Győr (Hungary) in the future.

The model rotation will benefit all the sites of Audi’s global production network. “The new model distribution will enhance our production efficiency and strengthen all of the sites involved,” stated Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. “It will allow us to utilize further synergies within the Volkswagen Group and to bundle key competencies.” The model decisions protect jobs and promote the internationalization of the production network.

As of 2018, Audi Brussels will exclusively produce the first battery‑electric SUV from the brand with the Four Rings for the world market. The Audi e-tron quattro concept study that was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015 provides a clear indication of the final production version. The sporty SUV will fit between the Audi Q7 and the Audi Q5 in the product portfolio. Equipped with three electric motors and a high‑capacity battery, the Audi e-tron model will offer a maximum of sportiness, driving dynamics and efficiency. It will have full everyday practicality with a range of more than 500 kilometers and will feature quick battery charging.

The Brussels plant will also have its own battery production. The site in Belgium will thus become a key plant for electric mobility at the Volkswagen Group.

In the context of this restructuring, the Audi A1, which is currently produced in Brussels, will be built in Martorell in Spain in the future. The Audi Hungaria plant in Győr will take over production of the Audi Q3, which is currently built in Spain. The site in Hungary already produces four Audi models: the Audi A3 Sedan, the Audi A3 Cabriolet, the Audi TT and the Audi TT Roadster.

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