Audi, like many other automotive brands, will focus on electrification and self-driving technology in the future. But, a shift in thinking will likely come at the expense of large engine displacements.
Newcomer to the brand, Peter Mertens, came aboard this year as Audi's board member for technical development and he recently questioned the future of powertrains like the brand's V-10 and W-12 engines. Audi previously said it wants to shrink its powertrain offerings by 40 percent in the long term, and it's no surprise that inefficient niche engines like the V-10 and W-12 face the chopping block.
"Do we really need a V-10 and W-12 for the next generation of cars?" Mertens questioned aloud during an Automotive News (subscription required) interview. "We will thin out our engine-transmission combinations, but entire engine families might also disappear."
For now, Audi's V-8 engine seems safe, though Mertens contradicts a previous report that said the brand's latest V-8 engine will be its last. "We get questioned about the future of the V-8, and in particular, the diesel, but I cannot imagine we will do without it," he said. The executive noted a strong group of customers remains who still clamor for V-8 engine power. Mertens added the V-8 won't exist forever, but it will stick around for a "rather long time."
Aside from future powertrain cuts, Porsche and Audi will forge ahead with the Premium Platform Electric architecture. The two VW Group brands continue to jointly develop the platform for future electrified cars. Audi will utilize it most, according to Mertens, and he predicted a 60/40 split between the brand he represents and Porsche. Audi's more imminent plans include a new electric car each year starting in 2018 through 2020. By 2025, the company predicts a third of VW Group sales will be plug-in and battery-electric vehicles, which the automaker detailed last year in its future strategy announcement.
At least we can potentially take solace in V-8 engines still flush within Audi's lineup for years to come.