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A8 heads down hybrid route

Date: 17 February 2010   |   Author: Tristan Young

Audi A8

Audi is set to reveal a hybrid version of it's A8 luxury car at next month's Geneva motor show, but is undecided if the car will go in sale the UK.

The petrol-electric hybrid A8 will rival the Lexus LS600h and, like Lexus, Audi will market the hybrid version as a powerful and clean version, rather than as the most efficient version, according to Audi engineer and head of suspension Dr Horst Glaser.

Glaser said: "The hybrid will play to the sporty side, it won't be, ultimately, as efficient as the diesel."

This is because Audi will introduce a sub-160g/km 3.0-litre diesel A8 at the end of this year capable of more than 47mpg.

Glaser added the A8, due on sale in 2011, would be "a full hybrid" and would be front-drive and not use Audi's legendary quattro four-wheel drive system.

Part of the reason Audi is opting for front drive for it's hybrid is that the quattro system is understood to add just under 100kg to the weight of the car, approximately the same weight as the hybrid system.

Glaser said Audi was assessing the market to see if "UK buyers consider hybrids as hype" rather than as something that has an advantage over other fuels. Mercedes and BMW have both revealed hybrid versions of their luxury saloons, but neither are currently planning to sell them in the UK.

Meanwhile, Audi aims to sell between 800 and 1000 conventionally powered A8 in the UK this year, with between 70-80% going to business users and fleets.

These sales figures will rise to more than 1200 for 2011, with a full year of the long-wheelbase and 159g/km 204PS 3.0-litre TDI versions added to the range.

The sales figures are a marked improvement over 2009 when Audi sold 800 A8's but aren't at pre-recession levels when Audi sold more than 1400 a year.

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