Audi should aim to launch a practical four-seat car with fuel economy in excess of 250mpg, according to the company's new technical development boss.
The new model would be based on the Audi A1 chassis and offer seating for four adults. However, it would use plug-in hybrid technology and sophisticated lightweight materials to deliver fuel consumption of less than one-litre per 100 kilometres, which equates to 282.5mpg (or around 27g/km of CO2 emissions).
Audi's new board member for technical development, Wolfgang Durheimer, told What Car?: 'For Audi one, of the very innovative and futuristic ideas we have is to bring a one-litre (1l/100km, or 282.5mpg) car to the market. I'm not talking about a car with a lot of deficiencies and things lacking, but a car that delivers everything that a car needs to deliver to the customer, in terms of seat space, climate conditions and comfort.
'I think Dr (Ferdinand) Piech, who was in this position quite a long time ago, also had this idea, and he drove to the annual shareholders' meeting in a one-litre, cigar-shaped car. Since that time his vision has become more real. This is one of the plans I'm trying to institute.'
Volkswagen has demonstrated 'one-litre' cars before, in 2002, 2009 and 2011. However, even the most recent of these cars, called L1 and XL1, had a very distinctive shape and practicality issues because of the need to lower aerodynamic drag to achieve the 1l/100km figure. It's thought likely that while the Audi would adopt the principles of the XL1's diesel-electric hybrid powertrain, it would look more like mainstream transport. Durheimer said it would need to be 'identifiable' as an Audi.
He also confirmed the car would 'have an electrical connection', and while the vehicle would almost certainly have to use more expensive weight-saving materials, including aluminium and carbonfibre, he said it would 'have to cost a lot less' than high-end Audis such as the A8 and R8.
No production plans are set, although the new eco-vehicle is likely to be one of several proposals discussed at a series of high-level Audi engineering meetings in the coming days.
Audi has shown plenty of environmentally friendly projects in the past, but one of the most recent, the electric A2 Concept displayed at last year's Frankfurt motor show, is not destined to be part of the line-up. 'Some elements of that car have already been adopted on production cars, and more will appear,' said a source, 'but the A2 itself will remain a concept car.'