Audi is looking to add a new flagship Q9 SUV to its model portfolio, and has confirmed to CAR that, at the opposite end of the range, there will be no Audi city car.
Nothing smaller than the Audi A1?
No, according to Audi's Chairman of the Board and CEO, Rupert Stadler. Speaking at the Beijing motor show, where Audi revealed the new TT Offroad concept, Stadler said, 'There is no need for a car [below A1 in the range].’
Quashing rumours of an Audi-badged version of the VW Up city car, Stadler said: 'We are quite happy with A1. It sells 120,000 units, and has a high degree of equipment and accessories, so [profit margins] are quite good.'
What about a range flagship?
Stadler argued that the R8 supercar is Audi's flagship and standard-bearer for 'vorsprung durch technik', but nevertheless admitted Audi is considering a new range-topper.
It's more likely to be a Q9 super-SUV than an A9 limo or coupe. 'We want to expand the SUV side of the business. By 2020, our Q-models will account for over 45% of sales,’ he said.
Strong growth across the SUV sector is forecast in a China too: the compact segment, where Audi's Q3 competes as the class best seller, grew 49.4% to nearly three million units in 2013 alone.
Isn't Audi's 'Q9' a little late to the super-SUV party?
Yes, but Audi isn't worried by the head-start afforded to Bentley and Lamborghini, not to mention BMW's recently confirmed X7 and the already-available Range Rover long wheelbase.
'If we do [a Q9], it will not be because of what our rivals are doing,' Stadler argued. He also confirmed that the vehicle, if or when green-lighted, would be offered with an e-tron plug-in hybrid drivetrain: a feature set to be rolled out across the Audi family this decade. Currently, e-tron is only offered on the A3 and the on-again, off-again R8.