Industry giants Toyota and GM are racing to become the first carmaker with a production plug-in hybrid in its fleet and even BMW and Mercedes-Benz have confirmed plans to launch electric and alternative fuel vehicles towards the end of the decade. Audi however, sees its development of zero-emissions vehicles as a more gradual process. The Ingolstadt-based carmaker sees great opportunities in the electric vehicle segment but according to its CEO the first electric Audi will only arrive in the next five to ten years.

Speaking with Germany’s Welt am Sonntag, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said diesels still have a large role to play but eventually battery technology will allow carmakers to offer true zero-emissions vehicles. In five to ten years “we will offer cars without exhaust emissions," Stadler said.

When asked if Audi was lagging behind BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the technology stakes, Stadler boasted that Audi’s research capacities were superior to those of its rivals. "Electric cars offer great opportunities, which we have already seized on," Stadler revealed.

Pictured above is the Audi A1 Metroproject from last year’s Tokyo Motor Show. The concept vehicle featured an efficient 1.4L TFSI engine developing 110kW (150hp) and a 30kW (41hp) electric motor driving the front and rear axles respectively. A true plug-in hybrid, the electric motor is capable of powering the Metroproject on its own for zero-emission driving in residential areas.

Audi A1 Metroproject