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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Audi confirm 2011 Q5 Hybrid

Audi has confirmed that it will bring a hybrid Q5 model to market in 2011, the first mass-market hybrid vehicle for the German brand. Audi will offer a hybrid version of its Q5 premium SUV in the US starting in late 2010, says Wolfgang Hatz, head of powertrain development for the Volkswagen group.

If the car is a success in the US, Audi said it may launch it in Europe.

In an interview, Hatz said Audi must offer a hybrid model to compete with rival vehicles that already offer the technology, such as the Lexus RX 400h. The BMW X6 will be offered as a hybrid late this year, and Mercedes-Benz plans to roll out a hybrid in each of its major models starting with the S400 hybrid this year.

Opinion is split on whether Audi will use nickel metal hydride or lithium ion batteries in the Q5 Hybrid. However odds are high that the powertrain will be similar to the 3.0 litre V6 petrol engine and 300Nm electric assistance motor used by the upcoming 2011 Porsche Cayenne hybrid, 2010 Porsche Panamera hybrid and 2010 VW Touareg hybrid.

Up until now, Audi has resolutely stuck to clean diesel technology as its answer to emissions reduction.

It remains to be seen whether the automaker will follow up the Q5 Hybrid with more petrol-electric models. Some commentators postulate that the petrol-electric Audi is less about reducing CO2 and more about profiting in the hybrid-friendly US market.

Audi, like its compatriot Mercedes-Benz, favours all-electric powertrains as its long-term answer to reducing environmental impact. The company has revealed that it intends to launch a battery-electric version of its R8 supercar by late 2012, with the technology to eventually work its way down the Audi range.

For now though, the company is keen to demonstrate what it can do with petrol-electric technology. The Audi Q5 Hybrid is due to be officially unveiled in late 2010, most likely at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

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