Updated: Audi CEO Rupert Stadler hinted back in March that U.S. production could be a possibility for the premium brand at Volkswagen's new plant, which was confirmed this month to be constructed in Tennessee. Latest reports are now indicating that executives are seriously considering building the Audi A4 and Q5 models at the Chattanooga plant, with volumes of between 50,000 and 80,000 units needed to justify U.S. production.

Executives had also considered building the VW Touareg/Audi Q7/Porsche Cayenne line of SUVs in the U.S. but have since ruled out the option due to the lack of suitable suppliers. The new billion dollar plant will have the capacity to build up to 200,000 vehicles a year and is expected to first start operations in late 2010 or early 2011.

Original: The spreading exchange rate differential between the strengthening euro and weakening U.S. dollar means importing European manufactured models to North America is now significantly more expensive than just a few years ago. Not surprisingly, many of Europe’s top manufacturers have moved production across the Atlantic. Volkswagen recently confirmed that it’s searching for a site in the U.S. to build a new plant and now Audi is considering doing the same.

Speaking to reporters from Automotive News, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler confirmed there were a number of options being considered, including joint production with Volkswagen. Audi dealer Joel Weinberger has also hinted at the possibility of a U.S. factory. “They have to build some cars here in the U.S. There is always talk of that but even if they were to decide today, it would be a good seven years before the first car rolls off the line,” he said during a recent interview.

Stadler is a little more optimistic about the timeline. He revealed Audi could be producing cars in the U.S. by as early as 2010. The move is part of the carmaker's goal to sell more cars in North America to help reach its target of 1.5 million vehicle sales per year by 2015.

The models likely to be built in the U.S. would be cars like the Q7 SUV and upcoming Q5 because Audi sells more of these models in North America than anywhere else in the world. Pictured above is the new Q7 V12 TDI Coastline Concept, which you can read about by clicking here.