Forest plant in Brussels will build the three-motor e-tron SUV from 2018

Forest plant in Brussels will build the three-motor e-tron SUV from 2018

Audi's future models are explored in this analysis, the second of a series concerning Volkswagen's passenger car brands. Next will be SEAT, then Škoda. After this comes Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti, to be followed by Porsche in chapter six, the last of these being the final part of the overall analysis of the Group's plans.

Sedans, hatchbacks, Sportbacks & Avants (including S & RS derivatives)

The A1, a rival for BMW's Mini, is a rebodied VW Polo. Both three-door (A1) and five-door (A1 Sportback) hatchbacks are available. There are also two sports models, the S1 and S1 Sportback. These have quattro all-wheel drive and are powered by a 170kW (231hp) 2.0 TFSI engine. The company has the capacity to build 100,000+ A1-based vehicles at its Forest plant on the outskirts of Brussels. Production started there in May 2010.

The first cars in the second generation range are due to enter production not at Forest but instead at SEAT's Martorell plant in the third quarter of 2017. As well as replacements for the A1, A1 Sportback, S1 and S1 Sportback, an RS 1 and an RS 1 Sportback should be added in 2018. All these cars will be based on MQB A/B, the same architecture as the next VW Polo. 

Some believe that the A1 series will change names to A2, S2 etc. Should this happen, the rumours of a VW up!-based city car for Audi would be proved true. Its name would be A1 and it would use MHB Evo, an evolution of the baby VW's platform. Market release would be in 2019, just ahead of the next generations of the up!, SEAT Mii and Škoda Citigo.

The next A3 three-door is expected to enter production in July 2019, replacing a by then seven-year old model series. It will be followed soon after by the A3 Sportback, A3 Sedan and A3 Cabriolet as well as by the new S3 and RS 3. All will have MQB A/B as their basis and share much with the eighth generation Golf.

The AU380 range will be manufactured or assembled in Germany (Ingolstadt), Hungary (Györ), India (Shendra/Aurangabad), China (FAW Volkswagen: Foshan) and Brazil (Curitiba).

AU491, the latest A4 Sedan, was introduced in 2015 so it has four more years until a mid-life facelift appears. Once all plants switch over to building or assembling the new model, it will be made in Germany (Neckarsulm and Ingolstad), China (FAW Volkswagen: Changchun), India (Shendra/Aurangabad), Russia (Kaluga) and Indonesia (Jakarta).

The A4 and S4 are based on the MLB architecture, as also used by the larger A6. The Sedan, Avant and allroad were announced in June 2015 with all three making their public debuts at the Frankfurt IAA three months later. See the electric sedans sections below for details on the A4 e-tron, and the electric crossovers and SUVs group for notes on the new A4 allroad.

China's locally built long-wheelbase sedan, the A4 L, went on sale in September (2016). This car measures 2,908mm between the wheelarches compared to 2,820mm for the rest of the world's A4.

The replacement for the RS 4 Avant is due to be launched earlier in the lifecycle of the original model (the A4 Avant) than was the case with previous generations. The new super Avant is due in 2017 and will be powered by a turbocharged V6 petrol engine, not a normally aspirated V8.

The AU493 A5 Sportback and S5 Sportback (see below for the Coupé and Cabriolet) were announced to the media in September, the cars having their world premieres later that month at the Paris motor show. One notable development for changes in potential buyer preference is Audi of America's decision to offer the Sportback: the outgoing model was not available in the USA.

There is a wide variety of engines and in addition to a six-speed manual transmission and a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox (branded by Audi as an S tronic), for the first time an eight-speed torque converter (tiptonic) automatic is also available.

A new RS 5 Sportback is likely for launch in the second half of 2017.

The entire range should have a facelift in early 2020 with replacements appearing during the final quarter of 2024. As was the case with the previous A5 series, production is in Germany. Build in China is not expected.

The future A6 and A6 Avant are due to enter production during the first quarter of 2018. They will be based upon the same MLB Evo architecture as the new A4 and A5. China will again have its own bodystyle, the long wheelbase A6 L.

A6 build or assembly will take place in Germany (Neckarsulm), China (FAW Volkswagen: Changchun), India (Shendra/Aurangabad), Russia (Kaluga) and Indonesia (Jakarta). The S6 will be manufactured only in Germany. The same applies to the next RS 6 Avant, which should be in showrooms from early 2019. All these cars are due to have a mid-life update in late 2021 and to be replaced in 2025.

The next generations of the A7 Sportback and S7 Sportback should enter production at Neckarsulm in late 2017, the RS 7 Sportback following in 2018. These cars will again be the hatchback versions of the A6, S6 and RS 6 Avant and share powertrains with them. While a successor for China's A6 L e-tron is planned (see electric sedans below), Audi is unlikely to offer an A7 e-tron.

The replacements for the A8 and S8 are due out in the second quarter of 2017. An RS 8 might be offered for the first time. All are expected to use a new aluminium platform called PL65, which is said to share certain modules with MLB Evo. Production will be at Neckarsulm.

As for the A8 hybrid and A8 L hybrid, these will not be directly replaced. Instead, plug-in hybrids, the A8 e-tron and A8 L e-tron will be their effective successors. See the electric sedans section below for more details.

The AU651 A8 should also be Audi's first car with the potential for AD. The firm demonstrated a prototype of an autonomous drive RS 7 at the Hockenheimring racing track as long ago as October 2014. It completed a circuit with no-one at the wheel. Audi's AD system will be able to take control of the car in traffic but more advanced applications will gradually be rolled out over the lifecycle of the A8.

The A9, an additional high-end model, should enter production at Neckarsulm in mid-2018 and have a seven to eight year lifecycle. To be pitched at a higher pricing level than the A8 sedan upon which it is based, the A9 would come in two body styles and so offer rivals for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé and Cabriolet. There will likely be an S9 derivative of each and potentially, an RS 9 Coupé and RS 9 Cabriolet.

A preview of the big coupé was exhibited at November 2014's LA auto show. This was the Audi prologue concept. There was a second design study, the Prologue Avant, at the Geneva show four months later. The prologue allroad then appeared at the Shanghai show in April 2015.

Crossovers & SUVs (including allroad, S & RS derivatives)

The latest A4 allroad is again known as the Audi allroad in North American markets: the A6 allroad is not offered there. This replacement for a model of the same name had its public debut at the Detroit auto show this past January. Available only as an estate, it has quattro drive as standard and the car is 34mm higher than the previous model. 

The allroad can be easily distinguished from other A4 Avants by its raised suspension, front and rear scuff guards and the plastic extensions which cover its wheelarches.

A lifecycle of six to seven years is expected, with a facelift to appear during the first quarter of 2019. As with the A4 it is built alongside at Ingolstadt, the allroad's platform is MLB Evo.

A new A6 is due to appear in early 2018 and this will be followed by the next generation of the A6 allroad. Like the A4 allroad, the larger car will come only as an Avant. Its sales may not be as strong as the existing model due to increased competition. Volvo has the new V90 Cross Country in this segment and Mercedes-Benz will soon add the E-Class AllTerrain.

The replacement model is expected to have been previewed, styling-wise, by the 5.13m long prologue allroad showcar.

Choosing to use the Q2 name for its latest and most compact SUV yet means that Audi has left open the option of a smaller model for the future. The theoretical Q1 is not yet under development but it might be added to the line-up in the early 2020s. If so, it would probably be based upon the same architecture as the second generation VW up!, SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo.

The Q2 had its world premiere at the Geneva motor show in March 2016, with production at the Ingolstadt plant commencing six months later. Other premium brands are yet to place products in this segment so Audi will soon learn just how much demand there is for a Polo-sized SUV. The Q2 is based on MQB Zero, which will be used for the next generation Polo and SEAT Ibiza. 

The smallest Audi SUV yet had been previewed by the Q2 Crosslane Coupe, a concept which premiered at the Paris motor show in September 2012. The design study was a three-door model but the production version has five doors.

A sports version is under development, prototypes having been seen testing in Germany. It is likely to be called SQ2 rather than RS Q2.

AU326, which will replace the existing AU316 Q3, will be manufactured by Audi Hungaria, the parent company announced in January. Prior to that, Audi had stated that the successor model would again be built at SEAT's Martorell plant. 

Györ should have around the same level of capacity for Q3 as the Spanish plant, which is in the region of 100,000 units per annum. FAW Volkswagen will again make the Q3 at Changchun, with the model also due to be assembled in Brazil from 2019, roughly six to nine months after production commences at the lead plant in Hungary. Györ will also be the source of the second generation RS Q3.

The Q4 is to be a coupé version of the next Q3. Even though it has been in Audi's plans for filling out the Q range for some years, it won't now arrive until 2020. That would be two years after the next generation Q3 goes on sale.

TT offroad, the proposed model name for an SUV to exploit the Evoque's segment, was shelved. This was after Audi obtained the rights to Q4, a name owned by Fiat Chrysler. The TT offroad was a concept which debuted at April 2014's Beijing motor show. It was similarly sized to the Q3 but 80mm lower.

The second generation Q5 is made in Mexico, not Germany. This followed the April 2012 announcement that Audi would erect a plant in that country to build an unnamed SUV from 2016. The location was confirmed in August 2012: San José Chiapa and close to Puebla where Volkswagen has its own manufacturing base.

Up to 150,000 units of the new Q5 will be made annually at the plant in central Mexico. Some €900m was spent to erect this factory, which includes not only a body shop and assembly line, but also a press shop. The opening ceremony in September coincided with the debut of the second generation Q5 at the Paris motor show.

The Changchun plant of China's FAW Volkswagen joint venture is almost guaranteed to be the other manufacturing location for the Q5. Annual Audi production capacity at FAW-VW in Changchun was increased to 400,000 cars over the last few years. The plant currently produces the A4 L, A6 L, Q3 and first generation Q5.

As is the case with the outgoing Q5, CKD kits should be sent to plants in Russia and India, commencing in 2017. This time they will come from Mexico, not Germany.

The new Q5 becomes available across Europe from early 2017. Meanwhile, the next generation of the high performance versions should again be available in three forms: SQ5, SQ5 TDI and SQ5 TDI plus.

The SQ5 will have a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, while the TDI and TDI plus are likely to be powered by versions of the Volkswagen Group's latest 3.0-litre V6 diesel. Like the Q5 upon which it is based, all versions of the SQ5 will be manufactured in Mexico. Production should commence from the second quarter of 2017.

There is currently some uncertainty over the Q6, a potential future model. Originally, it had been presumed that what will now be marketed as the e-tron quattro would have had Q6 in front of its name. Audi has stated that the electric SUV - see below - will be sized between the Q5 and Q7. 

What may now happen is that the Q6 will be a Q5 coupé. In that case, it would be manufactured in San José Chiapa. Market release will probably take place in 2018 or 2019.

The existing Q7, Audi's largest (5,052mm long) SUV, had its public debut at the Detroit auto show in January 2015. The main news was the loss of 325kg for the 3.0 TDI (now weighing 1,995kg) compared to the first generation Q7 3.0 TDI. 

The car is both slightly shorter and narrower than the first generation model. A five-seater layout is standard but 5+2 seating is optional, though the latter is standard in the UK and certain other markets.

The SQ7 TDI was announced in March, going on sale in relevant markets from May. This was the first vehicle to be powered by the Volkswagen Group's 4.0-litre diesel V8. This engine has a Valeo-developed turbocharger which is powered by an electric motor instead of the engine's exhaust. The principle behind it is that the impeller, which pumps air and fuel into the cylinders, still spins at 10,000 rpm even when it's not needed. For this reason, turbo lag is eliminated. Power is 320kW (435hp) and torque is 900Nm. As well as the electric turbo, there are two conventional turbochargers.

The SQ7 TDI's Electric Powered Compressor (EPC) has maximum power of 7kW and this comes from a 48V electrical subsystem which includes a 48-volt lithium-ion battery. This is located below the boot floor. The battery has a nominal energy content of 470 watt-hours and a peak output of up to 13kW while a DC/DC converter connects the 48V and 12V electrical systems.

Audi will likely add an SQ7 in late 2018, the delay apparently due to Porsche wanting its new 4.0-litre (petrol) V8 to have its first SUV application in the third generation Cayenne. This is due for release during the first quarter of 2018. The new Panamera is the first vehicle to be fitted with the Porsche biturbo V8. Its output in that model is 550hp.

The Q7 was the introductory vehicle for the Volkswagen Group's MLB Evo architecture. The big SUV's lifecycle should be eight years, with a facelift due in mid-2019. All build is in Slovakia, the Bratislava plant also being the production location for the closely related Bentley Bentayga and future third generation VW Touareg.

The Q8, a coupé-like derivative of the Q7, is to be launched globally in 2019. The US and China should be the main markets. This model was confirmed as being under development by Audi's head of R&D, Ulrich Hackenburg, speaking to the media at November 2014's LA auto show. Since retired, the Q8 project championed by him is said to still be advancing. Build will be at Bratislava and series production should commence during the first quarter of 2019. 

Coupes, roadsters & Cabriolets (including S & RS derivatives)

The AU494 A5 Coupé and S5 Coupé went into production in September, while the AU495 A5 Cabriolet and S5 Cabriolet will be in dealerships in Germany from March. AU493, the A5 Sportback and S5 Sportback, will also be available from the first quarter. These cars are manufactured at Neckarsulm and Ingolstadt.

Like the A4/S4 and the future A6, the new two-door models use Modularer Längsbaukasten Evo (Modular Longitudinal Platform, evolved into a new generation architecture). They are due for their mid-cycle facelifts in the second quarter of 2020, with replacements expected towards the end of 2024.

As for the next RS 5 Coupé and RS 5 Cabriolet, these should have their world premieres at the Geneva motor show in March. Their engine will be a turbocharged V6, not the normally aspirated V8 which powers the outgoing cars.

The third generation TT has been in production at Györ for almost two years now, so it's still about 18 months away from a styling refresh and 4-5 years from replacement.

The TT Coupé and TTS Coupé had their global debuts at the Geneva motor show in March 2014, both of these hatchbacks going on sale from the end of that year. The TT Roadster and TTS Roadster premiered at October 2014's Paris motor show with production at the Hungarian factory commencing during the following month. 

A noteworthy detail of the Roadster is the integration of radio reception into the roof system, so there is no antenna on the car body. When the top is closed, an antenna embedded in the insulation provides reception, while the same is provided via access flaps when the roof is open. Webasto-Edscha supplies the roof module.

The TT RS had its world premiere in both body styles at the Beijing motor show in April (2016), sales commencing from September. There is no manual gearbox with this new generation. Instead, the Volkswagen Group's DQ500 dual clutch transmission is standard, and badged as an S tronic. The TT RS is powered by a 194kW (400hp) 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo engine.

The second generation R8 uses the same MSS architecture as the Lamborghini Huracán. Its world premiere was at the Geneva motor show in March 2015.

The open-gate six-speed manual transmission of the first generation model will not return, with a seven-speed S tronic (dual clutch) now standard. Audi's internal code for the S tronic is DL800. 

The 5.2-litre V10 was the first engine to be announced and there are two outputs. As was the case with manual transmission, minimal demand for the first generation V8 cars means they were not replaced. However, a turbocharged five-cylinder or possibly a turbocharged V6 should become available as the effective replacement for the 4.2-litre V8. That should happen in 2017 or 2018.

The R8 went on sale across Europe from the fourth quarter of 2015, the Spyder V10 then following, having its world premiere at the New York auto show in March of this year. Unlike the R8 Coupé V10, there is as yet no higher-power plus variant of the open car.

All R8s are almost entirely hand-built in Germany at the Audi Böllinger Höfe production centre near Neckarsulm. Average annual build of about 3,000 units is expected over the model's seven-year production cycle.

The first bespoke Audi EV

Audi's first vehicle designed specifically to run on a battery pack will arrive in just under eighteen months' time. Originally thought to be called Q6 e-tron, it will instead be the e-tron quattro. Even though the first part of the model name is well known as the badge which denotes existing electric or hybrid-electric Audis, the company believes 'e-tron' needs its own aspirational model. The idea is supposedly linked to the era when the Quattro supercar acted as a promotional vehicle for all the all-wheel drive quattros which followed it.

What the firm calls 'Audi Brussels', a plant in Forest, a suburb of the Belgian capital, will be where the e-tron quattro will be manufactured. That is set to happen in the first quarter of 2018. The all-electric SUV will have a range of up to 500km (310 miles). A special version of the second-generation modular longitudinal platform will be used, with the vehicle to be sized between the Q5 and Q7. 

In the concept version (see image), a large lithium-ion battery was positioned between the axles and below the passenger compartment. Power will come from one motor on the front axle and a further two acting at the rear; thus the quattro part of the model name. LG Chem and Samsung SDI are to be the battery suppliers for this project.

To make room at Forest, Audi will transfer production of the A1 & S1 to SEAT at Martorell in Spain. The Audi Q3, which is currently produced at Martorell, will in turn shift to Györ (Hungary).

Electric hatchbacks and sedans

The next generation of the A3 Sportback e-tron should be added to the A3 range in 2019 and this time around, an A3 Sedan e-tron will be in the line-up. The four-door car is expected to be manufactured in China by FAW Volkswagen. The architecture will be MQB A/B Evo, the same platform upon which the next Golf will be based.

Like the next A6, the latest A4 and A4 L were developed around MLB Evo. Their mid-life facelifts are due in 2019 but before then, expect a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) for the Chinese market. The A4 L e-tron will be built by FAW Volkswagen in Changchun. An A4 e-tron for Europe and the US is likely but not yet confirmed.

The A6 L e-tron is Audi's newest PHEV. China is the largest national market for the A6 and the long wheelbase L, a special model for that market, is manufactured at the FAW Volkswagen joint venture's Changchun plant. It had its debut at the Beijing motor show in April 2012. A plug-in petrol-electric prototype also premiered at the same event: the A6 L e-tron concept. A couple of more prototypes followed but series production only started in October (2016). This is the first PHEV Audi to be built in China.

The 2.0 TFSI gasoline engine produces 155kW (211hp) and 350Nm (258.1 lb-ft) of torque, according to Audi. The disc-shaped electric motor provides 91kW and 220Nm (162.3 lb-ft) of torque. Together with a decoupler, this is integrated into the eight-speed tiptronic transmission, which transfers the power to the front wheels. System output is 180kW (245hp); maximum system torque is 500Nm (368.8 lb-ft).

The car's lithium-ion battery comprises 104 cells and stores 14.1kWh of energy. Located beneath the luggage compartment, the battery reduces its volume only slightly: capacity is 340 litres (11.9 cu ft). Two-phase charging technology allows charging with 7.2kW of power. Range is up to 50km. 

A successor for the A6 L e-tron should appear as soon as 2018, and like the next A6, it will be based on MLB Evo. Production will be at FAW Volkwagen's Changchun plant.

Audi's chairman, Rupert Stadler, told the media at April 2014's Beijing motor show that an A8 e-tron would be launched "in the years to come", which was taken to mean as part of the next generation model range. The car's petrol-electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain is expected to be shared with that of the A6 L e-tron. 

Some sources believe that there will also or instead be an all-electric A8. The next generation A8 is due out in 2017, so expect the e-tron to be added in around 9-12 months' time. Build will be at Neckarsulm. The A8 Hybrid is unlikely to be replaced.

Electric crossovers & SUVs

Audi still has some time on its hands but will need to commit soon to a decision on a possible Q3 e-tron. If it does indeed decide to go with this electric variant, production would be at the Györ plant in Hungary in either 2019 or 2020. The architecture will be MQB A/B Evo.

For the moment, the smallest Q model to have been available with hybrid drive was the old shape Q5. The new generation vehicle, which is now in production, should gain a PHEV powertrain in late 2017. The Q5 e-tron will be manufactured alongside other variants at Audi's new San José Chiapa plant in central Mexico. FAW Volkswagen may add build at Changchun in 2018.

There are two versions of the newly launched Q7 e-tron quattro: one petrol and one diesel. The second of these is powered by the combination of a 190kW (258PS) 3.0-litre V6 and a 94KW electric motor, which is integrated into the eight-speed tiptronic. System output is 275kW (373hp); system torque is 700Nm (516.3 lb-ft). Lithium-ion batteries store 17.3 kWh of energy, enabling a range of up to 56km (35 miles) in electric mode.

The diesel-electric Q7 went on sale in mainly European markets from July 2016 but there is also a four-cylinder petrol-electric version for an initial three countries. The latter, badged as the Q7 2.0 TFSI quattro, is available in China, Japan and Singapore. It is powered by a direct injection turbo 2.0-litre petrol engine and one electric motor, delivering a combined 270kW (367hp) and 700Nm (516.3 lb-ft) of torque. The claimed range on EV power is 33 miles (53km).

Later in their lifecycles, these vehicles should be available with *AWC (Audi Wireless Charging). This featured in the prologue Avant concept revealed at the 2015 Geneva motor show and which had a powertrain almost identical to that of the Q7 e-tron's.

AWC draws energy from a floor plate which is connected to the power grid and which can be embedded on or into the asphalt. The plate integrates a primary coil and an inverter (AC/AC converter). When active, this coil induces a magnetic field of alternating current. Ulrich Hackenburg, Audi's former head of R&D, told a conference in April 2015, "Our system will start with 3.6kW of charging and it will go to 7.2kW soon, and there are ideas to go higher." He added that the company hopes to offer automatic parking so that the car perfectly aligns with the charging plate. AWC will also be available for the A8 e-tron and the e-tron quattro.

Two Q8 e-tron variants are due to go into production at Bratislava from late 2019. These would have the same petrol-electric and diesel-electric powertrains as the respective versions of the Q7 e-tron.

Hydrogen fuel cell models

The Volkswagen Group has been reluctant to match the initiatives taken by Honda, Toyota and Hyundai in leasing limited numbers of vehicles powered by a fuel cell. That will change but likely not until towards the end of the decade. 

The first hydrogen-powered model will probably be called h-tron quattro, Audi having revealed a design study with that name at the Detroit auto show this past January. 

The concept was claimed by its maker to be powered by a "fuel cell achieving an output of up to 110 kW with a battery that provides a temporary boost of 100 kW". Production is expected to commence in late 2019. This should be the same basic vehicle as the forthcoming e-tron quattro SUV, so the platform would be MLB Evo. 

It is presently unclear whether or not the h-tron quattro will be built at Forest, the plant which will make the e-tron quattro. Production volumes would probably be less than 2,000 vehicles a year. It seems more likely that Audi will choose to make its fuel cell vehicles in Germany. Under that presumption, a logical location would be at Böllinger Höfe. This purpose-built production plant near Neckarsulm is where the R8 is manufactured.

The debut of the h-tron quattro concept was not the first hydrogen-powered Audi concept. The company revealed an experimental car at November 2014's LA auto show. The A7 Sportback h-tron, a prototype, was a plug-in hybrid powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. As the next A7 will also be based on MLB Evo, it too may be offered in h-tron form but probably in relatively small numbers and not until 2019 or 2020.

*AWC is also the reason why this analysis does not apply the PHEV label to many future combustion engine+electric motor(s) vehicles. What are presently cars with cords (EVs and PHEVs) should soon be more accurately referred to as rechargeables, once wireless recharging becomes more widespread.

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of

Future product program intelligence

More data on vehicle lifetime and future product plans is available in PLDB from QUBE.