Audi said that a new, all-electric SUV will be one of the key vehicles to help Audi grow, along with integrating more self-driving features into its vehicles.
Rupert Stadler, CEO of Audi, discussed the carmaker’s strategy for the SUV segment at the company’s annual general meeting in Germany last week.
“We intend to continue growing this year – faster than the world market and in all regions. Our brand aims to set new records,” Stadler said of Audi Group’s business goals.
The yet-to-be-released battery electric SUV, along with two other new SUVs, “are intended to provide a solid foundation for the Audi Group’s growth path,” he explained.
Currently nameless, Audi’s electric SUV is expected to have a range of more than 300 miles. With an anticipated release date of 2018, the SUV will arrive more than two years after one of its main competitors: the Tesla Model X.
The German carmaker presented a concept version last March, with a few details provided by Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, a member of Audi’s board of management for Technical Development.
“This sports activity vehicle will be built on the second generation of the modular longitudinal platform – our concept for optimal drivetrain diversity implementation. You will hear and see more of this before the end of the year,” Hackenberg said.
Audi has previously talked more about electrifying more of its drive trains, but currently the brand’s offerings are limited in the U.S. market. The crossover-sized Q5 Hybrid is the only model for sale right now, and it’s struggling to gain a foothold in the market. As of April, only 34 have sold in the U.S. If Q5 Hybrid sales continue at this pace, the vehicle’s totals for 2015 will post behind last year’s 116 sales.
In addition to expanding its SUV fleet, Stadler said Audi will also add more self-driving features to its vehicles to improve market share.
“In the new premium SUV Audi Q7, which is to be launched in Europe in the second half of the year, customers can experience a preliminary stage of piloted driving with adaptive cruise control and the traffic‑jam assistant,” stated Audi. Accelerating, braking and steering will be controlled by the vehicle with these features.
The company said it has been testing these programs, along with full autonomous driving, for several months.
“In October 2014, an Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept drove laps of the Grand Prix racetrack in Hockenheim – without a driver and at speeds up to 240 km/h (149 mph),” Audi said. “And in early January … journalists traveled approximately 900 kilometers (559 miles) in regular traffic in an Audi driving in piloted mode.”