Germany: Audi confirms production plans for Q7 gasoline-electric hybrid SUV

Audi has confirmed that a gasoline-electric version of its Q7 SUV is nearing production. The OEM premiered a prototype version at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2005.

Audi’s concept from the 2005 show was powered by a 350hp (257kW) 4.2-litre V8 and a 44hp (32kW) electric motor. The new Q7 3.6 FSI hybrid prototype, however, combines Volkswagen Group’s 280hp (206kW) 3.6-litre direct injection V6 gasoline engine with a 51hp (38kW) electric motor.

The Q7 hybrid is claimed to have 23% better fuel consumption than the current Q7 3.6 FSI. 

Audi notes that all major powertrain assemblies are arranged in line, which it says helps to reduce weight and energy losses. The V6 engine’s 375Nm torque peak is boosted by up to 285Nm by the electric motor, the company states.

The vehicle’s transmission is a six-speed tiptronic gearbox, while the all-wheel drive system has a 40% front / 60% rear torque split. Zero to 100km/h is said to be achieved in 7.6 seconds (Q7 3.6 FSI: 8.5 seconds) with Combined fuel consumption of 28.8mpg (Q7 3.6 FSI: 22.2mpg). Further, the Q7 3.6 FSI’s 309g/km CO2 output is reduced to 237g/km thanks to the electric motor and a number of revisions to ancillaries such as the power steering pump, the OEM says. 

Driving modes are as follows:

  • The FSI engine and electric motor each work on their own as the drive unit, or the vehicle can combine the power of the two for acceleration. In this mode, the gasoline engine is responsible for basic operation, though it also needs to supply energy to the battery.
  • The electric motor can, however, operate independently at speeds of up to 50km/h (30mph). It is also able to put kinetic energy back into the system, recharging the battery during braking or coasting as the motor reverses its function and becomes an alternator.
  • The NiMH battery will allow the vehicle to be driven up to 1.2 miles on electrical power. As the battery’s cells approach exhaustion, the gasoline engine is automatically started.  

Audi notes the hybrid system’s battery is placed in the spare wheel well, allowing the vehicle to have the same three rows of seating as other Q7s and what it calls a ‘large’ boot. It does not state if the luggage compartment is smaller than that of existing Q7 versions. The OEM says the battery weighs 69kg and the hybrid module, including the electric motor, 40kg.

Mercedes-Benz premiered a rival for the forthcoming Audi, the V8-engined ML 450 Hybrid, at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2007. It is due to go on sale in 2009. All M-Class variants are, however, five-seaters, as is the six-cylinder Lexus RX 400h. A new RX due in 2008 should be a seven-seater, though, as the Lexus LF-Xh concept at the recent Tokyo show had three rows of seats. BMW is also believed to have a hybrid version of its X5 SUV under development. Though the X5 does not come as standard with third row seating, this can be ordered as an option.

The Audi Q7 3.6 FSI hybrid will go on sale in selected left- and right-hand drive markets in late 2008

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