Audi aims to have three electric cars in action by 2020 and EVs will make up at least 25% of the company’s sales by 2025, according to company CEO Rupert Stadler. If anything, that’s quite disappointing, but its work to develop an autonomous car with subsidiary company SDS could be more encouraging.

The trio of electric cars sounds pretty conservative, as the R8 e-tron is coming on stream and Audi already has the A3 e-tron as a plug-in hybrid. Sister brand VW has the eGolf on sale right now and Audi, SEAT, and Skoda can all share R&D and the finished result. It seems like a timid approach, then, to target just three cars.

Audi’s rivals are making strides

Mercedes is about to launch a new sub-brand. BMW will soon have a plug-in 3 Series and will surely have more cars before too long. There’s a real danger, then, that Audi could get left behind. It will introduce a series of hybrids before 2020 and clearly doesn’t have the same faith in the technology that others have started to show in abundance.

After five years of teasing, the R8 e-tron is ready to go. The electric R8 will have a 340kWh motor, batteries arranged in a T-shape for optimal weight distribution and 679lb ft of torque. We already know all of this.

Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America, also confirmed that the e-tron Quattro SUV electric concept will go into production in 2018 in an interview with Automotive News.

Audi just isn’t willing to use the powerplant from the eGolf due to its range. The VW covers just 83 miles between charges and that is a worry. The Chevy Bolt will hit 200 miles before the end of the year and the Tesla Model 3 is looming on the horizon. A car with a sub-100-mile range, then, simply won’t cut it for the e-tron range.

Self-driving car looks good

The autonomous effort sounds more interesting. Stadler told German newspaper Heilbronner Stimme that this could go further than Tesla’s Level 4. This could be a genuine, Level 5 car that doesn’t even offer control to the driver.

“This is about a robot car that may not even need a steering wheel or pedals, so it’s ideal for urban traffic,” he said.

The German company demonstrated a self-driving Audi A7 last year and has since taken it on the road and track with journalists aboard.

At the time, Audi said it would take two years to put this technology into production and the formation of SDS is another step towards real self-driving cars on the road.

Less is more

Even a company of Audi’s size might have to make sacrifices to accommodate this new push and it is looking to slim down its admittedly bloated line of petrol-powered cars.

“We have discussed what would happen if we dropped the two-door version of the A3,” he said. “I think we would barely lose any customers. We’d rather invest the money that is freed up in new models and other derivatives.”

Audi will shift its focus and devote more resources to modern technology and this is all good news. We’re just a little disappointed that they’re not moving a little faster an are working on halfway-house hybrids rather than going for the jugular with full EVs.

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