It's no secret at this point that Audi is all-in on electric vehicles. Earlier this year, the brand made clear that it plans to cease further development of its internal-combustion engines by 2026, with the complete phase-out of gas- and diesel-powered models coming by 2033 — which, for reference, is only as far ahead of us as Beyonce's "Single Ladies" is behind us.
As part of that transition, the brand is going to be rolling out a fleet of new EVs over the next four years: some, like the E-Tron GT, will fill new niches; others, like the A6 E-Tron, will be electric complements to existing models. But as a new report from Automotive News suggests, these money moves could spell the end of the line for two style icons that have defined Audi's 21st Century renaissance: the TT and the R8.
According to the report, which breaks down the future of each of the brand's model lines based on the best available information, the TT and R8 lines might be sunsetted when their current generations age off into the retirement home in a couple years. The R8 seems to have a better chance of sticking around than the TT — the report states that "Audi is hinting that the R8 name might live on in another high-performance form," while saying "there's no indication yet that Audi has greenlighted a transition" for the TT — but neither seems like a solid bet.
Then again, given the brand equity in both names, it's also possible Audi will instead keep both TT and R8 around — albeit in very different forms. Should the models stick around, they'd do so as EVs, trading their distinctive ICE snarls and high-revving engines for the cool, insistent shove of electric motors. AN suggests, if Audi goes that route, the electric R8 and TT could show up as soon as 2024.
Doing so, however, would likely require finding a way to cram big enough batteries into those small coupes and roadsters to offer acceptable range — something carmakers of all stripes have struggled with. Audi's latest concept car, the Skysphere, is a roadster-slash-gran turismo that's almost four feet longer and six inches wider than the TT — yet it only packs a claimed 80-kWh battery, less than the E-Tron or Porsche Taycan, and would likely deliver a real-world range of around 200 miles or less.
The AN report also includes accounts of what's expected for the rest of the Audi lineup:
- This year, the new A3 / S3 / RS 3 compact cars will hit the streets, along with the Q4 E-Tron compact electric crossover
- In 2022, the A6, A7 and A8 families are expected to receive mid-life refreshes, as will the current E-Tron SUV
- In 2023, an all-new A4 / A5 family is expected to show up, marking the final internal-combustion generation of those models; a brand-new Q6 E-Tron EV SUV will also reportedly arrive that year, along with an updated Q3 and a refreshed Q8 / SQ8 / RS Q8
- In 2024, an all-new Q7 family will reportedly arrive as the final ICE-based generation of the crossover; the A6 E-Tron is also expected to arrive this year
- In 2025, an all-new Q5 should arrive in its final ICE generation; the E-Tron GT and Q4 E-Tron should also score updates this year; and at least one all-new unknown EV based on the VW Group's new PPE electric car platform is believed to be coming this year
- In 2026, Audi's hotly-anticipated "Artemis" electric car project should arrive, packing an unknown body type and Level 4 vehicle autonomy
Admittedly, this isn't the first time rumors of the R8 and/or TT's cancellation have swirled around. Coupes and convertibles are hardly the hottest-selling vehicle categories these days; with market forces demanding trucks and SUVs, governments demanding electrification, and the physics of batteries making it easier to get decent range out of bigger packs (which, in turn, demand bigger vehicles), there doesn't seem to be much incentive for automakers to invest heavily in all-new cars in those categories for the moment.
Then again, cars like the TT and R8 are as much about inspiring dreams as moving metal...and dreams are something we're not likely to give up on anytime soon.