Audi to launch e-tron GT as Tesla Model S rival

by James Attwood, Autocar UK 15 Mar 2018


Audi's answer to Tesla Model S?

Audi has revealed plans for a new e-tron GT four-door sports car that will rival the Tesla Model S when it launches early in the next decade.

The new machine – revealed by Autocar UK two years ago – was confirmed during the company’s annual press conference as one of the 20 electrified models that will feature in its line-up by 2025.

Audi says the e-tron GT will be ‘highly dynamic’. Audi chairman Rupert Stadler said: “We interpret sportiness very progressively with our fully electric e-tron GT, and this is how we will take our high-performance brand Audi Sport into the future.”

Audi said the e-tron GT, which will be produced at the firm’s Neckarsulm factory, will be 'highly dynamic’ and shows the direction of the company’s performance division.

Brand chairman Rupert Stadler said: “We interpret sportiness very progressively with our fully electric e-tron GT, and this is how we will take our high-performance brand Audi Sport into the future.”

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The announcement came alongside confirmation that Audi’s heavily trailed e-tron EV – the SUV seen in disguise in Geneva earlier this month - will cost around €80,000 (about £70,950) when it is launched later this year.

Like sister brand Volkswagen, Audi is committed to massively expanding sales of electrified models in the future. At the annual financial conference in Ingolstadt this morning, Audi bosses said that the company would have 20 electrified models in its range by 2025.

On the issue of the cost of developing EVs, Stadler said “co-operation with Porsche” on the new electric car platform, called J1 internally (and shared with the Porsche Mission E), has “reduced development costs by three digit million Euro amount”.

Stadler also revealed that all core Audi models will be offered with “at least mild-hybrid” engine options. “The switch to the WLTP [the new industry fuel economy test] cycle is proving extremely challenging but we are currently doing type approval for engine and gearbox variants,” he said.

Stadler said the changes would include the launch of “10 new sporty SUV variants” for the important Chinese market – seven of which will be made locally and four will be electric.

The Chinese premium market has turned heavily towards SUVs and Audi’s Q models accounted for half of all Audi sales in the country last year. A long-wheelbase version of the Q2 will also be launched in China this year.

Interestingly, Audi’s CFO said that one-third of the engine and transmission options offered on the current A3 range had not been sold, so the new A3 would see a cost-saving reduction in transmission options. CFO Alexander Seitz also hinted at an additional model series alongside the new A3 “aimed at younger buyers” without giving further details.

Many of Audi’s powertrain changes come in light of the diesel scandal, which Stadler said made 2017 a “very challenging year”, alongside Audi’s sales stumble in China.

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“The diesel issue is taking up significant time and it is not yet over, but we are working untiringly on the technical issues, but the clarification of legal issues will take more time,” he said. “We regret the uncertainty for our customers and employees but we have learned from our mistakes.”

Stadler also said that the company’s whistleblower system had been overhauled, and that ‘integrity and regaining trust’ were future top priorities for Audi.

Aside from its line-up changes, Audi announced that it had recorded record profits in 2017. Profit was up by 57% to £4.15 billion despite the fact sales were up by just 0.6% on the year before.