New Audi Names Will Differentiate Onslaught of EVs From Gas Cars
Get ready to learn new names for the successors to old Audis. The German luxury brand is following a step-by-step shift in focus to an all-electric future, but there will be a learning curve and likely some confusion getting used to a new naming scheme that will use even or odd numbers to signify the type of powertrain. The good news: Audi has new hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and gas- or diesel-powered vehicles in the works, as well as the introduction of new electric vehicles. The new vehicles on tap will come from two separate platforms: Premium Platform Combustion (PPC) for new ICE vehicles, Premium Platform Electric (PPE) for the new battery-electric vehicles.
The new names are an attempt to better distinguish them. Going forward, EVs will have even numbers: A4, A6, Q4, Q6, Q8. Successors to existing ICE models will switch to odd numbers: A3, A5, A7. There will be no new ICE nameplates, only next generations of existing models as Audi transitions to EVs over the next decade. Why? It was getting confusing having an A6 with a combustion engine and an A6 E-Tron EV, says Oliver Hoffmann, member of the Audi board of management for Technical Development. Renaming successor ICE models makes it clearer as to what propels it.
There will be transition pains that still need to be sorted out like the A8 which got a midcycle upgrade and will not have a successor. It doesn’t make sense to rename the existing Audi A8 as the A9, Hoffmann says. He won’t comment on a Q9 SUV in the works except to say the platform is capable of large SUVs. Another tricky one is the E-Tron GT which doesn’t have a number in its name and will remain the GT.
Audi is investing about $18 billion in EVs and has pledged to stop producing vehicles with an ICE, even as a plug-in hybrid, by the end of 2030, at which point the automaker hopes to be selling 3 million vehicles a year. By 2026, all-new vehicles from Audi, in all segments, will be EV only, with 20 new electrified vehicles on tap from 2023 to 2027. Today the EV lineup consists of eight E-Trons when you count all the Q4 and Q8 E-Tron derivatives and the GT. The first one dates back to 2018 and this quarter Audi is on track to set a new record for EV sales.
Audi has 20 new models launching over the next two years, of which 10 will be battery electric, and vehicles with e-motors are expected to account for 30 percent of U.S. sales by 2025. The new Q8 E-Tron family that just hit dealerships in North America this month. Looking ahead here is what else is coming:
2024 Audi Q6 E-Tron and Q6 Sportback E-Tron
On the EV front, the first vehicles from the PPE platform developed with Porsche are the Audi Q6 SUV and Sportback EVs. They will go on sale in Europe by the end of 2023 and hit North American shores in 2024.
Head of Audi Design Marc Lichte says the beauty of the dedicated EV architecture is that the proportions are pure. “Not a single line was compromised” to accommodate a conventional powertrain. The Q6 family has a wide track, long wheelbase, and short overhang. The SUV has a higher seating position and big greenhouse with upright A and C pillars. The integrated spoiler is an extension of the roofline. The blade on the side highlights the heart of the vehicle: The location of the batteries.
The Sportback is almost identical upfront but sports a different grille. The Sportback is 1.6 inches flatter and has the roofline of an A7 which means a very different C pillar. The spoiler is lower, almost parallel to the beltline. Both body styles have the same light band across the back. Models with a single motor will be rear-wheel drive, dual motors will provide Quattro all-wheel-drive capability.
With 270 kW charging capacity, Audi says the Q6 can add 186 miles of range in 10 minutes. Total distance on a single charge is 373 miles (WLTP not EPA). The Q6 family has next-gen infotainment and a new electrical architecture for software updates.
Audi A6 Sportback E-Tron and A6 Avant E-Tron
The Audi A6 E-Tron family consists of a Sportback sedan and an Avant wagon and the production versions are arguably even better than the concepts that precede them. The new A6 family has long hoods and short overhangs. Lichte said engineers were able to get the target aerodynamics without having to lop off the nose or add a long windshield. Adding glass to the windshield or roof doesn’t make sense, in his mind. “We need to keep luxury proportions with EVs.”
The aluminum trim on the Avant accentuates the wagon’s roofline, extending to the spoiler. Looking at it, it’s not hard to imagine the S6 and RS Avants coming to the U.S. The Sportback four-door coupe looks sleek with its flush door handles with a sensor to activate them to open the door.
The A6 E-Trons will be the first models with illuminated rings front and center in most markets, including the U.S. and China, but they are not allowed in Europe. The rear has a single red line for the taillight. The 100-kW battery with 270 kWh charging capability should provide up to 435 miles of range (WLTP). A massive battery is easy to package in an SUV than in a lower-riding, flat-floor car, Lichte says.
The PPE platform will be used for many body styles of E-Tron: sedans, fastbacks, wagons, SUVs, and crossovers, from mid-size up. They will be designed and engineered to continue the Audi heritage of emotion and capability. There will not be ICE successors for the small Audi A1 and Q2 which are sold in Europe and are being phased out. There are plans for new small entry-level EVs but they might not be for North America. The Audi TT and R8 are in their last model year. There are cool concepts for successors, Hoffmann says.
Spheres of EVs
Audi has shown a series of electric “sphere” concepts. The fourth, the Activesphere, is a four-door, four-passenger coupe with a sportback design. It is on the PPE platform and will be equipped with Quattro AWD. The Volkswagen Group is also adding the Scout brand for more rugged electric SUVs and pickups, which could provide a platform to put the Activesphere into production. No such decisions have been made yet. The concepts were not designed as precursors to production models, but design elements, especially the interiors, could make it onto other planned models and they present a clear view of the design direction Audi is taking.
There will be successors to existing ICE models but renamed with odd numbers. Audi also had to upgrade its engines to increase efficiency to meet global standards. Here are first ones to look for:
Audi A5 Sedan and A5 Avant
Under the new naming scheme, the next-generation A4 becomes the A5 and will be offered as a sedan and a wagon globally. North America is not likely to get the base wagon but could get an Allroad. The A5 family of hybrids and plug-in hybrids will have 10 engine and transmission combinations with a large performance range.
Lichte says the new A5 is the best ICE model to date, with the muscles of an RS4 in the entry model, complete with power dome, short overhang, and big wheels. The A5 has the widest and lowest front to date with a distinct grille and fetching LED lighting—an Audi trademark. The greenhouse is outlined with chrome trim. Even with the more extreme fastback, the sedan has more room in back than the current A4, in part due to the wider track that is similar to the current RS. Instead of a trunk it has a short rear liftgate like a sportback.
The interior has a broad, slender dash. The free form, curved OLED screen is oriented towards the driver. A second screen for the passenger is well integrated into the dash which is made of soft materials.
Audi A7 and S7 Sedan and Avant
The A7 family (the upcoming renamed A6) of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and performance models will be offered with eight different engine and transmission combinations when they go on sale at the end of 2024.
The sedan is all about length and elegance, Lichte says, with luxury car proportions that were not chopped short for aerodynamics. The new A7 has a traditional trunk. The sedan has the illuminated rings up front, dynamic daytime running lights, and the new slender taillight design. The S7 Avant is sportier and fast, with a clean design, flush door handles, a wide track, and 21-inch wheels. The U.S. will get the RS Avant, likely as a hybrid for the extra boost.
Inside is a soft-wrapped dash with the same screens as the A5. Switches to adjust mirrors and lights are now packaged to the left of the steering wheel, below the dash, where the armrest rises up to meet the dash. Body styles decisions have not all been made, but North America will likely get a performance Avant and perhaps a lifted Allroad.
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