Audi Sport gears up for electric future
Performance division readies product offensive with six new models
Audi Sport is embarking on its most aggressive product offensive in its 25-year history with six new RS-badged SUVs and supersaloons scheduled for launch before the end of the year.
Following the reveal of the new RS6 Avant a few weeks ago, the first RS6 to be sold in the US, and the RS7 Sportback at the Frankfurt motor show, Oliver Hoffmann, joint managing director of Audi Sport alongside Julius Seebach, confirmed both an RSQ3 and RSQ3 Sportback will join the portfolio along with an RSQ8 before the end of the year. A facelifted RS4 Avant will arrive towards the end of Q1 in 2020. These new models will join the current Audi Sport models – TT RS, RS3, RS5 and R8.
‘We will offer an Audi Sport RS model in the segments where there is customer demand and the car can be developed as a true RS model,’ Hoffmann said during the reveal of the RS7 Sportback on the eve of the Frankfurt show.
‘What we won’t do is offer RS models if we don’t think it is right for the brand. The SQ5, for example, is a very good Audi S car but we don’t have to produce an RS version. Audi AG doesn’t tell us which cars we have to produce.’
With three new Audi RS SUVs to be revealed before the end of the year, we will have to wait until the spring of 2020 before a new RS4 Avant arrives, which will still be sooner than is the norm due to Audi Sport’s ambitious plans to more than halve the time it takes for its cars to come to market after the series model has gone on sale.
‘Traditionally it takes 18 months for an RS derivative to be launched after the series car is revealed, but our customers want their RS models sooner so we have to reduce the time it takes to develop our cars.
‘We will reduce this time to around six months,’ said Hoffmann. To achieve this goal Audi Sport is now involved in the first stages of a new series model’s design and development. ‘We have to be involved at the very beginning of the series car’s development process – it allows us to start the development of the RS model much sooner and influence the series car’s design to better suit the requirements of an RS model.’
While Audi Sport forges ahead with its model offensive it is also planning its next generation of powertrain options. ‘We will introduce plug-in hybrid Audi Sport models,’ confirmed Hoffmann. ‘We are also working on our electrification strategy for the future. We will have our first electric Audi Sport car soon, the e-tron GT, and this will be followed by a family of electric Audi Sport models.’
What Hoffmann wouldn’t be drawn on was the future of the R8. ‘It’s our halo car and this is important to us, but we haven’t made a decision yet on the next R8.’