The in-line-five that powered the legendary RS2 Avant, the fabulous 5.2-liter V10 of the R8, or the pinnacle of diesel engineering that was the V12 TDI. There is no doubt that Audi has built some formidable petrol and oil burners over the years, but it seems this chapter is about to come to a close. Company CEO Markus Duesmann told German media in a recent interview that the Bavarian carmaker will stop development of new internal-combustion engines in favor of more electric vehicles. Does this mean we won’t see any more piston-powered Audis being launched in years to come? Not quite, or at least we hope it doesn’t.
“The EU plans for an even stricter Euro 7 emissions standard are a huge technical challenge, and at the same time have little benefit for the environment. That extremely restricts the combustion engine. We will no longer develop a new internal-combustion engine, but will adapt our existing internal-combustion engines to new emission guidelines.”
Those were the words of Audi’s boss that, at first glance, will make the hearts of Quattro-loving petrolheads everywhere skip a beat. All isn’t as bad is it seems. At least not if we interpret his words right, which we hope we’re doing.
Duesmann is essentially saying that Audi won’t start working on any brand-new ICE programs where new engines would replace current ones of the same type. Instead, the automaker will focus on making existing blocks more efficient and kinder to the environment. So, there will be future ICE engine development, but it’s going to be done with the stock sitting on the shelves right now. This approach certainly makes sense if you look at the ever-changing and ever-stricter environmental requirements placed on fossil-fuel burners. Does it mean we’ll see another V10 supercar launched? Unlikely, as the e-Tron GT will take up that niche and already, in fact, shares a production line with the R8. We might see a few more midrange cars and PHEVs launched, though.
So, when will Audi really stop developing and selling petrol- or diesel-engine cars? There’s no known date, but as sister firm Volkswagen has said that it will be selling gas-guzzlers beyond 2030, Audi is likely to follow suit. Of course, those stinky planet killers will play second fiddle to the growing lineup of electric cars to bear the four rings. The company is planning to have 20 different electric models in its lineup in five years’ time, including the new Q4 e-Tron that promises to be a more affordable entry-level EV for fans of cars from Ingolstadt.
Will all of that ever really replace the experience of a screaming V10 trying to smack your head into next week? Only time will tell.