Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Audi to launch Q7 hybrid and diesel this year

Audi of America is planning on launching its first diesel and hybrid models this year with the Audi Q7 SUV. While Audi has not said which other vehicles will get the parallel hybrid system, which can run in gasoline, an electric motor or both at the same time, several other Audi hybrids are expected to follow the Q7.

The company has been working with parent Volkswagen and Porsche on the development of hybrids, and will be the first to hit the market with a hybrid between the three auto makers. Porsche will follow with a hybrid Cayenne SUV by 2010.

Audi technicians say that the hybrid system can easily be adapted to different model ranges and easily integrates with existing drivetrains.

The Audi Q7 will be powered by a 3.6-liter that produces 280 horsepower and is mated to an electric engine. The hybrid system will use about 23 percent less fuel. Audi says it cannot provide a mileage range as of yet. The electric motor works at speeds of 12 to 15 mph without gasoline, and will go as fast as 31 mph.

If the Audi Q7 hybrid is cruising and the driver takes his foot off of the accelerator, the system turns off the gasoline engine and continues to move at speeds as high as 75 mph. Other features include an AC system, automatic transmission and brake booster that all run off the electric motor. When the driver steps on the brakes, the 152 pound battery begins charging.

The Audi Q7 diesel variant will be powered by a 3.0 liter V6 turbodiesel engine producing about 230 hp and about 400 pounds-feet of torque. It will be available for all 50 states at the end of 2008. The diesel Audi Q7 is expected to have 600-mile range on one tank of gasoline.

Audi is also said to be working on an ethanol version of the A5 coupe for Europe. There is no decision if it will be offered in the U.S.


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