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Audi begins plug-in hybrid model expansion

Plug-in models will bridge the electrification gap for Aussie customers, German brand claims

19 Oct 2023

AUDI is set to offer more plug-in hybrid vehicles as it aims to meet the needs of customers in Australia who are not yet sure if the time is right to go fully electric.


The German luxury brand has recently added plug-in hybrid versions of its Q5 SUV and the Sportback coupe-style SUV derivative of that model, and there will soon be a new Q8 plug-in hybrid version offered, too.


These types of models typically have a decent-sized battery and electric motor to allow more than 50km of EV driving range, while also incorporating a petrol engine to allow for longer-distance driving, if needed.


To some, they are seen as the best of both world – but that is provided the customer’s individual circumstances make sense for such a model to be parked in their driveway instead of a fully electric vehicle, or a conventional ICE model, many of which have mild-hybrid technology in the Audi range.


Matthew Dale, head of product for Audi Australia, said that having a plug-in hybrid model offers customers another choice, and can help bridge the gap between what a buyer is used to, and what might be seen as the unknown world of full-EV driving.


“We launched the Q5 PHEV three or four months ago and it has been accepted quite well in the market. We know PHEV as a total market is quite small – so it sits around two per cent and has sat around two per cent over the last four or five years,” he said.


“There are more products coming into that space, which will stem growth that it’s not about growth for us in terms of a sales figure. It's about customer choice. You've got customers that are asking the question when they go to dealerships. 'Should I just replace my ICE with an ICE or is now the right time to go to electrification?'.


“It offers that compliment to the ICE range, if they don’t want to make the full change to an electrified vehicle, battery electric vehicle, and being a B-segment car, the medium-sized SUV, it’s a very popular segment. 


“And we always get customers wanting performance, but some customers want the efficiency as well. We’ve only taken, (Audi HQ calls it) the Competition version, so it’s a higher-power PHEV, because there is a lower-power one in Europe.


“Our strategy was to combine performance with efficiency. So, you’re getting S-model performance in straight line 0-100, but you’re also getting frugal fuel consumption at 2.0 to 2.7 litres per 100km, depending on what model you get.”


The Q5 55 TFSI e, as it is known, offers a combined 270kW and 500Nm, and has a claimed 0-100km/h time of 5.3 seconds. But it also has a 17.9kWh battery pack, with 7.2kW AC charging and a recharge time of just two-and-a-half hours, with up to 55km of EV range available, and a combined cycle fuel use figure of only 2.0 litres per 100km.


Now, for the uninitiated, you’ll typically only ever achieve that level of consumption for the first 100 kilometres, so long as the battery is charged. If you run it as a ‘hybrid’ – in other words, if you keep driving once the battery is depleted – you will have to call on the 2.0L turbo-petrol engine to help more.


However, Mr Dale said that the brand is not trying to push this tech onto customers – rather, the brand plans to use its Audi Host and Audi Expert team members at the dealership to try and figure out if a PHEV would suit a customer’s needs.


“They really do complement the range, but they offer that choice to a customer that is looking to go electrified, and that's our version of the ‘hybrid’,” he said.


“All these PHEVs as well, especially in the Audi range, have a range that is usable on a daily level that you can just do electrified trips.


“When customers come into dealerships, that’s where the dealers and the Audi experts are having those conversations to understand what the customer requirements are before trying to sell them a vehicle.


“It is sitting down with somebody and selling the technology in a way that’s not selling the car. It's answering the customer's questions.”


The Q8 60 TFSI e plug-in hybrid model will arrive in Australia shortly, with pricing at $148,375 plus on-road costs meaning it plugs into the range just below the fully electric Q8 e-tron model (from $153,900 +ORC).


The PHEV version of the Q8 runs a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine combined with an electric motor and battery pack, with a combined total output of 340kW/700Nm, which is enough to shoot it from 0-100 in 5.4 seconds, according to Audi.


The company claims the fuel efficiency for the Q8 60 TFSI e is 2.6 litres per 100km, with up to 59km of EV driving range available.


The Audi Q8 line-up is now one of the most diverse ranges in the country, with the existing 55 TFSI turbo-petrol model having been joined by the twin-turbo-V8-powered SQ8 and RSQ8 models, as well as the 50 TDI diesel version, and the newly named Q8 e-tron (formerly known simply as the Audi e-tron), which is available in SUV or Sportback coupe-style SUV bodies.


Pricing for the Q8 model line runs from $132,269 to $219,069 +ORC.

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