Report: Audi A9 approved for production

Having looked on with envy at the sales racked up by Mercedes-Benz with its expanded S-Class family, rivals are now racing to launch their own offerings to cater to the strong demand for high-end cruisers.

Lexus will start selling its new LC flagship coupe in early 2017 and BMW has confirmed plans for a similar model, likely to be badged an 8-Series. Cadillac has also hinted at its own offering, revealing the impressive Escala coupe-like sedan concept on August 18 during Monterey Car Week.

Audi for years has been toying with idea of a model positioned above the A8 sedan, a model that would theoretically be called the A9.

Autocar reports that the green light has finally been given for an A9, citing comments made by Audi CEO Rupert Stadler. He is said to have described the car as being “as high up as possible, in the A8 segment.”

Audi e-tron quattro concept, 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show

Audi e-tron quattro concept, 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show

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The British publication describes the A9 as being a sleek, coupe-like sedan with an electric powertrain and all-wheel drive. The powertrain is said to be the same one developed for 2018’s Q6 e-tron electric SUV, which was previewed in 2015’s e-tron quattro concept (shown above). This means a 95-kilowatt lithium-ion battery capable of delivering a range of over 300 miles on a single charge.

The car, which would likely be badged an A9 e-tron, is estimated to arrive towards the end of the decade. It’s also tipped to offer “Level 4” autonomous driving capability. This is where a car can be in control in all but the most extreme conditions, such as during severe weather. Level 3 capability, where a car can take full control in limited situations, such as during highway driving, will be available next year on the new A8.

Note, Audi is not alone in its quest to develop a high-end electric car. Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has already experienced substantial success with its range-topping Model S variants, and Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have confirmed respective entries in this segment as well.

Stay tuned for an update.

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