Audi, hit hard by the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal that erupted last fall, has back-burnered its forthcoming Range Rover Evoque-fighting Q4 in order to funnel its challenged finances into its burgeoning line of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
The news comes from Car & Driver magazine, whose source—someone “close” to the Audi AG board of directors—says the automaker is diverting money toward allowing the company “to show people we are serious about” electric vehicles, particularly the e-tron Quattro (shown as a concept last fall in Frankfurt), and the hydrogen fuel-cell h-tron Quattro.
C&D’s source added that “every kind of thinking has changed since the diesel problems. We are pushing to bring zero-emission cars to market as fast as we can now—and pushing to do them right.”
Audi had better hope they do them “right,” as the last thing they need is to shove a half-baked full electric vehicle out the door and hope for the best once people start buying it. Audi’s first production e-tron model is the A3, a plug-in hybrid version of the A3 hatchback that can do a claimed 26 km on electricity alone. The e-tron Quattro concept is a more impressive all-electric machine conceived to challenge Tesla at its own game, with a promised 500 km of driving range, and a drivetrain that can crank out a maximum of 496 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque.
Audi’s decision comes barely a week after it wrested the rights to the Q4 name from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), whose Alfa Romeo brand had previously used Q4 to identify all-wheel drive variants of some of its models.
Meanwhile, the diesel problem hasn’t gone away yet for Audi and parent company Volkswagen: the California Air Resources Board (CARB) earlier this month rejected the company’s proposed fix for the dirty 2.0L TDI diesels used in Audi and Volkswagen models.