Ah-HA! Remember what I said about the new for 2010 VW’s Touareg Hybrid already sharing a platform with it’s corporate siblings, the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q Series, and that we could expect other hybrid SUVs?
Turns out that will be happening for Audi in 2010 as well.
Audi’s hybrid program was on again/off again but now it seems like it is definitely on, with a production launch coming as soon as late 2009 as a 2010 model. And curiously, the upcoming Q5 hybrid is expected to launch in the U.S. market before the rest of the world gets it. Makes sense, since the U.S. is the 2nd largest hybrid market in the world at the moment (Japan is first).
The new Q5 hybrid is needed to compete with the likes of the Lexus RX450h and the upcoming BMW X6 hybrid, according to Audi powertrain development boss Wolfgang Hatz.
Despite moving to hybrid production, Audi would prefer to go the diesel route, due to manufacturing costs. According to Wolfgang Hatz, it costs 50 percent more to develop a diesel powertrain versus a conventional petrol system. Hybrid powertrains costs 3-4 times as much to develop. So, if the demand for hybrids begins to significantly increase, the business case could change, but for now, Audi’s focus will remain on TDI.