Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler has predicted a massive explosion in SUV sales that’ll change the face of his brand’s line-up. Speaking to Auto Express he said: “We are working hard on our SUV strategy. In five to ten years, 40-45%, possibly even 50%, of our sales will be SUVs.
“I prefer to react to what the customer wants and they’re asking for SUVs.”
Audi’s current SUV line-up of Q7, Q5 and Q3 will be joined by a Q1 next year, while a Q8 will also join the range in 2017 – the entire model portfolio will increase from 50 to 60 cars by 2020.
Stadler is also carefully watching what rivals Mercedes and BMW are doing with their coupé SUVs. “They have gone very early [to market] with these cars, but it will be interesting for us to watch.”
He also confirmed that Audi is exploring whether an even smaller SUV could be made. “We are looking at all options, yes, but Audi will never make a cheap car.”
All future Audi models will have technology at their heart, with Stadler claiming that Audi will take the lead on autonomous driving. “We want to give back valuable time to people, to let them work and communicate with their families while behind the wheel.
“We are at the very forefront of piloted driving – the Audi A8 we will launch in 2017 will have fully autonomous capability at up to 80km/h”
Stadler is confident that any legal hurdles regarding autonomous driving will have been overcome by that time, with discussions with legislators “still open and very fruitful.”
He also told us that Audi could possibly build something similar to the Google car without traditional controls and with urban mobility at its heart. “We will see – it could happen,” he said. “People’s mobility needs will change a lot. Lots of people are talking about the car industry 4.0, but I prefer to focus on people 4.0 and what they want.”
Car sharing is also something that Audi is investigating and it’s already running leasing programmes that enable groups of people to lease cars like the R8 together giving them access to cars they might not otherwise be able to afford.
Stadler also predicted the growth of battery electric vehicles within Audi’s range with a model capable of a 310-mile range by 2018. “And range will increase dramatically and we will try to bring down prices [of electric cars], too,” he said.
However, no matter what technology is on board or what class of car the company makes, styling is still hugely important with Stadler telling us: “People’s purchasing choice is based on good design. We will do everything to keep our cars the sexiest around.”
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