Audi Research And Development Boss – EREVs Are Not Part Of Our Game Plan


Audi A3 e-tron

Audi A3 e-tron

A3 E-tron Cutaway

A3 E-tron Cutaway

German automaker Audi will focus intensively on plug-in hybrids in the coming years.  There’s even a BEV in the works for Audi in the form of the Audi R8 e-tron, but what Audi will not do is a range-extended electric vehicle.

Audi’s research and development boss, Ulrich Hackenberg, in speaking at the launch of the PHEV Audi A3 e-tron, stated that this model is a “benchmark for other plug-in hybrids” and that Audi has decided PHEVs are the way to go because “they meet all of our customers’ expectations.”

Okay, but where’s this range extender talk come in?  Well, as Autocar outlines:

He [Hackenburg] revealed that Audi is developing two plug-in hybrid powertrain families. Future models based on the MQB platform would be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain mirroring that of the A3 e-tron. This features an electric motor sited between a transversely mounted 1.4 TFSI petrol engine and a specially developed six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which sends drive to the front wheels.

He added that four-wheel-drive versions of MQB-based models might also be offered using the petrol-electric set-up to drive the front wheels and an electric motor mounted on the rear axle.

Larger Audi models mounted on the new MLB-Evo platform and with longitudinal engines would use a similar system, with the electric motor mounted between the engine and gearbox. Hackenberg said quattro versions of these plug-in hybrids were also possible, using either a mechanically or electrically driven rear axle.

But it’s Hackenburg’s comment on engine power and implementation that shows he’s not a fan of the range-extender:

“If you are going to incorporate an engine with enough power to supply the batteries, it might as well be driving the wheels.”

Audi has toyed with range-extended electric vehicles in the concept stages, but has not announced any plans to bring an EREV to market.  From Hackenburg’s viewpoint, an EREV Audi makes no sense.  Looks for Audi to focus almost solely on PHEVs moving forward (aside from the custom ordered Audi R8 e-tron, a pure BEV and the BEV Audi Q8 SUV).  We should modify Audi’s position then.  It’s PHEV or BEV for Audi.  No EREVs.

Source: Autocar

Categories: Audi


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23 Comments on "Audi Research And Development Boss – EREVs Are Not Part Of Our Game Plan"

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The logic makes sense. However I would say by the same tolken it makes more sense to get rid of the engine, gas tank, emission controls, etc. completely.

Saw the e-tron recently, they dropped by to use our charger. Nice looking car.

A classic case of someone looking at the entire picture from manufacturer’s eyes rather than the customers.

He is only concerned about sizing of the engine rather than fuel use.

Epic fail.

As long as the battery is appropriately sized, the electric motors have enough power, and the gas engine can be completely decoupled, I see no problem with their approach. The problem is when you have systems like the Civic Hybrid that cannot move without engine friction and the Prius that has inadequate battery and electric motor power. It looks like the Germans have learned from those mistakes. We just have to see what the driving experience is like in EV mode.

So are they are OK w/an EREV like the Volt which couples the motor to the wheels above 70mph, but not a *series* EREV like the i3 or Fisker?

Or are they saying, they don’t want to put in a big enough battery/traction motor to allow a decent AER and full EV topspeed?

Yeah, I think that’s exactly what they’re saying.

OK, Captain Obvious-
If you want to pay more for fuel, it may as well be gas.

…and why gas when it could be diesel… or dead penguins and polar bears. 😉

It will make sense once they put a little effort into electric motor design.

When Audi figures out how to mass produce 200kW induction motors that are 50kg of common materials, it’ll make a lot more sense to pair that with a small gas engine than the other way around.

But I’m cool with their PHEV strategy for now. 10kWh and no loss of space is a lot better than Toyota and Ford could achieve.

I agree with his logic, to a certain extent. If the battery is small enough that the engine will need to run on a regular basis, then that does make sense. However, if the battery is large enough that the range extender is rarely used (like the i3 for example) then efficiency on the ICE can take a back seat to more important issues. For example, it is important that the Rex in the i3 is an option that the customer can decide on. It’s a lot easier to remove the Rex from an i3 than it is to remove the ICE from a Volt.

Still.. I’m fine with a PHEV as long as it can drive at freeway speeds on battery alone, and as long as there is a way to lock out the ICE from coming on.

Yet nobody at BMW ever suggested it’s ReX was modular, or that removing it was an option. BMW can add denser, better batteries and/or the aftermarket can come up with perhaps a piggyback extender pack where the ReX existed, but certainly that would void any BMW factory warranty.

While the Germans scoff at EREV, the Japanese push ahead with HSD, fool cells or pure BEVs, GM has a huge opportunity to show them all ( Frankie Weber, are you listening? ) that the EREV/Voltec concept is the superior choice for the next decade until A) Superior batteries, B) A mature charger infrastructure make the need for a range extender obsolete.

“the EREV/Voltec concept is the superior choice for the next decade”

Voltec has its place. And overall you may be correct in that its place may be larger than the others’. However, PHEVs and BEVs have their place too. A short range BEV is great for a local commuter / family errands car. And a PHEV has appeal to the performance crowd that a HEV never had. Witness the Porsche Panamera and Cayenne, Audi e-Tron, BMW i8, Golf GTE…

I too agree with him. The Volt is a great example of what they don’t want to build – a car with 250HP worth of motor/engine, which can only provide 150HP to the wheels. It just doesn’t fit with Audi’s image.

When all three clutches are engaged, the wheels can be driven by both the electric motor AND the ICE simultaneously. This happens at 70 MPH+ on the Volt for efficiency reasons.


I don’t know where you get the 250HP from…

149 + 74HP is only 223HP…

Plus, the whole point of that set up is so you can use less gas…

Don’t be a Volt hater…

I stand corrected. The Volt has 307 HP. From

1x 149HP Electric Motor
1x 74HP Electric Motor
1x 84HP Gas Generator

Total = 307HP

The point of a PHEV over an EREV is that you can use the power of the gas motor for quicker acceleration/better performance.

“Don’t be a Volt hater…”

LOL! I love the Volt. It is a marvel of engineering matched to market need. However, it is not the only option out there and there are advantages to other options as well (either PHEV or BEV).

Don’t be a Volt fanboy…

“Well, that escalated quickly”

How was he being a fanboy by stating the HP numbers?

There is no scenario where you’re using the power of the gas engine plus the power of both electric motors, so 307HP is not a correct number.

Beyond that, I guess I’m not familiar enough with Audi’s plan or motivations to conclude why they don’t want to do an EREV. The Volt is only one kind of EREV, so pointing out design choices in the Volt and concluding that’s why Audi doesn’t want to do an EREV is confusing to me.

“Plus, the whole point of that set up is so you can use less gas…”

BTW, aren’t you the same ModernMarvelFan who used to say that the Leaf is a piece of garbage because of its mediocre performance? Here we have a perfect example of a compromise GM made in the Volt – they chose to have less performance than a PHEV in order to have the lower fuel consumption of an EREV…

Volt v.2 is GM’s big opportunity to show all these guys wrong. Screw Audi and the arrogant Germans for their all-knowing attitude. GM blew it by not leveraging Voltec into a Prius-fighting market space. This should already be coming to pass with a Volt CUV, and perhaps a 5 seater, 4 door sedan. VIA shows EREV works best in fullsize and midsize pickup trucks, vans and large SUVs. This is the American market – all sewn up – efficient, happy customers using tons less gasoline, and feds happy with eco and efficiency mandates met. Instead, GM farted around…couldn’t find an ad agency that “got it” in marketing Volt…TOTALLY FORGOT TO COMPARE VOLT TO PRIUS IN ADVERTISING – STRESSED OUT ABOUT MEDIA FIRES, RUMORS AND LOW SALES due to high MSRP and all of the above…and lost their Voltec mojo. Seriously – full BEVs are not yet ready for mass market acceptance as a households only car…people living in condos and apartments face uphill battles in installing chargers, and Lvl 2, DCFCs are a patchwork affair, causing consumers to balk at taking the pure EV plunge. The Voltec/EREV solution is genius. It solves present-day problems with EVs. It reduces the usage… Read more »

If anyone disagrees with my above assessment. Note that BMW is now preparing it’s front wheel drive eco-BMW to enter world markets it’s yet to be able to penetrate. Imagine that! – A FWD BMW ECONOMY CAR! – It’s first attempt is called the 2 Series Active Tourer. The UDX platform it’s on is FWD and BMW has planned UP TO 40 MODELS that will build off this platform!!!

BMW has come off it’s “premiere” status throne and begun thinking of making more affordable “common man” cars. While spending billions on this future strategy, they’ve shown their hand in the BEV sector. BMW’s ICE plans DWARF it’s BEV plans, folks. This is for 5, 10 years out. So when i3 fans think BMW is “all-in” for BEVs…they need to check the facts.

It’ll take EREV/Voltec or some other form of a more gas-stingy technology that erases range anxiety and produces cheaper battery cars through 1,000,000s of consumer sales – to get the EV ball rolling for good.

I cannot name a German company that’s got it right so far. VW is probably the closest, and their efforts to date are far behind Tesla, GM, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

If anyone doubts GM dropped the ball – look at how they’ve stressed on per-unit losses in taking Volt to market. First, they tried to sell a $44,000 ( car the public believed was a hybrid ) vehicle in the Prius space. Next, they panicked and tried to use cutesy advertising to explain how the car worked. Next, they dropped the price to where it should’ve been in the first place, and decided to take the R&D losses, but it was too late, the car had lost favor and momentum with it’s potential-buyer public. Next, GM ( still fiddling with how to market the car ) believed selling Volt by making it a luxury-branded sexy coupe was a smart idea. They created ELR and tried to sell the impractical, but sexy-looking, Alcantara-lined, electric cupholder version for EIGHTY THOUSAND DOLLARS! This just fed into Volt’s enemies, pretty much outing the fact that GM was bleeding tens of thousands per ever Volt sale. So today, here we are. GM tries to regroup with Volt gen.2 for 2016 – and it will come in two “flavors” for two different pricepoints. Let’s hope they can stomach losses like Toyota did with HSD and Prius…do… Read more »
Send this letter to GM – Dear GM, you messed up. It’s OK, we all mess up sometimes. You fell into the VOLT vs. LEAF maelstrom that surrounded your EREV’s introduction in 2010. You targeted your ad money towards selling a “superior BEV” to a market that hadn’t even accepted BEVs as a viable choice in their minds!!! In other words, you missed the fact that your target market owned a Prius, a Camry or Highlander HSD hybrid, and were disappointed in it’s failed promise of saving mucho gas! You see, in Detroit you don’t get out much – and consumer surveys of people who normally look to American cars is a waste of time and resources. People buy hybrids to save on gas and save the planet. They are willing to do that if they gain value for their investment. And the pool of buyers at $29,000 is humongous, wherein the pool of those potential hybrid owners is pretty slim over $40,000. You failed to compare/contrast a Prius with a Volt. You just didn’t do it. You could’ve saved hundreds of millions of dollars had you have done this. Just paste a picture of a Prius next to a… Read more »

Hackenburg is a man of the past. He hasn’t yet understood that EREV give access to greater yield Direct Free Piston generators that, even on a pure petrol car, give a better overall yield trough the petrol/piston move/electricity/motor/wheel chain than trough the petrol/piston/crankshaft/clutch/gearbox/wheel chain.
Beside pure generators can be more diversified like the Wankel, the direct ethanol fuel cells or others.
Toyota has just produced a new Direct Free Piston generator which is a true silver bullet for EREV.
EREV are superior in EV range to Plug-in hybrids, they are also simpler in construction since only the motor drive the wheels.

I wonder if GM will do anything with it’s free piston patent?

To think, they had a working one in a car ~60 years ago.