Audi says upcoming electrics won’t be ‘compliance cars’

By now, it’s no secret that Audi is preparing an electric crossover for sale in 2018. Taking styling cues from the e-tron quattro concept unveiled at this month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, it’s expected to be a variant of the upcoming Q6 crossover “coupe,” and should boast more than 200 miles of range.

Audi will apparently follow this model with another electric vehicle, as it looks to augment its growing fleet of plug-in hybrids with all-electric models. U.S. Audi chief Scott Keogh confirmed the second model in an interview with Automotive News at Frankfurt, and noted that both upcoming electric cars will be mass-market items.

“Our number one thing is not to build a compliance car,” Keogh said, referring to the models built purely to satisfy California’s zero-emission vehicle standard. The term encompasses cars like the Fiat 500e and Chevrolet Spark EV that were intended to be sold only in California and other electric-car friendly states, not to grow the segment.

Keogh said Audi hopes to make its electric cars “cool” and “desirable,” perhaps looking to emulate Tesla, which has gained significant traction by emphasizing its cars’ technology, performance, and design as much as their environmental credentials. The Q6 crossover that is expected to form the basis of the first of the two electric models will likely be a stylized version of the Q7, in the same vein as the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.

This model will have a range somewhere between the “high 200s” and 300 miles, Keogh said. The e-tron quattro concept has a range of 310 miles, but that’s likely as measured on the more optimistic European testing cycle. The concept also boasts 500 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.

Audi of America reportedly lobbied specifically for an electric midsize luxury crossover. The production version of the e-tron quattro concept will likely be close in size to the Tesla Model X, as well as the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE, Porsche Cayenne, and Volvo XC90 – all of which offer plug-in hybrid variants.

Audi will soon launch a plug-in hybrid version of the Q7 in the U.S. as well. First shown at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the Q7 e-tron will go on sale next year, following the U.S. launch of the A3 Sportback e-tron hatchback this October.