Audi Combining Diesel and Electrons for Next Q7 Plug-In
Diesel Plug-In Hybrid Will be VW Group’s Second, After Limited-Availability XL1
Audi will leapfrog its competition in the green-technology department when it reveals the next-generation Q7 SUV, which will be available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain mated with a diesel engine. The plug-in diesel will only be the third such vehicle in the world, after Volkswagen’s extremely limited-production XL1 and Volvo’s popular V60 plug-in diesel hybrid.
According to Automotive News Europe, Audi development chief Ulrich Hackenberg said that the next Q7 would have a 3.0L diesel V-6 mated to a plug-in hybrid system, and a source told the publication that such a powertrain would come to the United States. Currently, there are no plug-in diesel (or diesel hybrid, for that matter) vehicles available in America, so it’s likely that the Q7 will be the first of its kind over here.
The combination promises to be an absolute torque monster. While neither diesel nor electric vehicles are known for their excessive power, both propulsion methods produce exceptional amounts of torque. Additionally, the electric motors produce full twist at zero RPM, which would help compensate for the slight turbo lag that accompanies most modern diesel engines (including Volkswagen’s excellent 3.0 TDI, available in today’s Q7).
Given diesel’s inherent energy efficiency over gasoline, it’s surprising that there aren’t more diesel-electric passenger cars on the road today. Cost is certainly a big factor, as both diesel technology and hybrid propulsion are more expensive than conventional, gasoline-fired internal combustion. However, modern advances make diesel-electric hybrid technology more cost-effective than it was in the past.
The Q7 plug-in will still likely carry a premium over its more conventional siblings, though. While no official figures for the next-gen SUV have been released, today’s Q7 TDI costs $5,200 more than an equivalent gas-powered model. It stands to reason that even if the next TDI carries less of a premium, the addition of a plug-in system will require a bit more dough.
However, the efficiency gains might make that investment worth it, particularly if the plug-in system makes all-electric driving possible, as it does on plug-in vehicles today. For example, the upcoming Volvo XC90 plug-in (which uses a gasoline engine) will be able to travel around 25 miles under electric-only power.
The new Q7 will drop sometime next year.
Source: Automotive News Europe