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Old 12-17-2008, 02:35 PM   #1
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Default Audi cancels Q5 hybrid plans

Just a few months ago as gas prices topped $4 a gallon in the U.S., automakers were scrambling to boost production of fuel-efficient vehicles – particularly hybrids. However, over the last six months or so, focus has shifted from fuel-efficient models to simply surviving, which has forced Audi to cancel plans for a hybrid version of its upcoming Q5 compact SUV.

Audi cancelled plans for a hybrid version of its Q7 earlier this year, with the cancelation of the Q5 Hybrid likely pushing Audi’s launch of the fuel-saving technology back to at least 2010.
“Audi won’t produce a petrol-electric hybrid until we can make nickel metal hydride batteries safer in crash situations, and hybrid technology more efficient overall,” a source familiar with the situation told Autocar. “Until then we will concentrate on producing more efficient diesel engines and aluminum chassis.”

Although the source claims the cancellation is closer related to efficiency and crash safety, there is little doubt that the current economic downturn is responsible for the delay. Hybrid technology is extremely expensive to develop, with limited availability greatly impacting profitability.

Now that a hybrid version of the Q5 is off the table, look for Audi to debut the technology in its upcoming A1 city car. Although the A1 probably won’t be headed for U.S. showrooms, expect the hybrid mini to hit other global markets in 2010.
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