On Thursday at its AGM in Neckarsulm, Germany, Audi laid out its ambitious plans for the future including bringing autonomous cars and electric vehicles to market before decade’s end and overhauling five of its most popular models before the end of 2018. “We are rejuvenating our model portfolio enormously,” said company chairman Rupert Stadler of Audi‘s product roadmap. And the refresh will start in July in Barcelona with the official unveiling of its flagship A8 luxury sedan, a car that is going to have to compete with the technological cutting edge that is the latest BMW 7 Series and the effortless comfort and active safety of the Mercedes S Class, itself just seriously overhauled for 2017.
Still, the company is hugely confident that the A8 will have the desired impact. “We will show the world everything that defines Vorsprung durch Technik and our brand,” said Stadler. The A8 will be followed by a new A7 fastback later in the year, most likely at the Frankfurt Autoshow in September.
In terms of electrification, Audi is collaborating with Porsche on drive train and architecture and aims to bring three plug-in battery electric cars to market by 2020 under the e-tron banner. Once established the company intends to start offering electrified versions of its core model range as predicted demand for electric cars increases.
And it is insatiable demand that is driving Audi to add more models to its already comprehensive SUV range. “We will expand our successful Q family by 2019 with two new concepts—the Audi Q8 and the Audi Q4,” said Stadler. The former will compete directly with the Range Rover and BMW X7 while the latter is expected to be very similar to the Porsche Macan and therefore challenge the Mercedes GLC Coupé.
During the shareholder meeting, Audi also outlined its plans for autonomous vehicle technology, now that it has been given ultimate responsibility for developing self-driving cars for the entire Volkswagen Group.
Its ultimate short-term goal is to get a self-driving system ready for market that can handle busy urban environments—a much more complex demand than highway cruising—and to roll it out to a number of compact city cars by 2021.