In 2015, Tesla really took the rest of the luxury car market to town. While other carmakers, including Audi, sold a few thousand cars in the luxury car segment, Tesla completely dominated, selling nearly double its closest competitor.
That sort of disruption got the traditional luxury saloon car makers, like BMW and Mercedes, worried. It was clear that the market really wanted what Tesla was doing and not so much what they were doing.
Now they’re all trying to respond in whatever way they can. Mercedes and BMW have promised to electrify their luxury cars. And Audi is hoping that the promise that its next A8 will be autonomous will be enough to convince the market that it still makes excellent cars.
The new A8, among other things, is a real looker. The massive grille at the front paired with the small, LED headlights, creates a dramatic effect. Audis have always “prowled” – but this new A8 takes that to the next level.
Despite the upgraded looks and the fact that much of the chassis will be made from aluminum and magnesium, Audi has confirmed that the new car will actually be around 50 kg heavier than the old model. The reason for this, apparently, is to accommodate for the new panoramic sunroof – a feature Audi is including in response to Tesla. Extra material is needed to keep the car stiff so that it retains good handling characteristics in the corners.
The other reason for the increase in weight is all the computer components and sensors that are being added to the vehicle. The car is literally brimming with components: everything from radar to eighteen cameras.
It’s worth mentioning that the car would be a lot heavier, had Audi decided to keep the old frame. Instead, they’re increasing the percentage of aluminum in the chassis as well as including carbon fiber sections to help keep rigidity high and the weight down.
There has been some controversy over red diesel, as well as diesel emissions in general, and so Audi has decided to take a different route with the A8. The car will come in a hybrid plug-in variety – and although it won’t be fully electric just yet, the company hopes that this will improve its green credentials.
When can we expect a fully electric car from Audi? Well, the company has said that it is working on what it’s calling a “Tesla rival” which will likely be released at some point next year. As more and more carmakers pile into the electric car space, we’re going to see an arms race, which each manufacturer’s trying to offer its customers additional speed and luxury.
Audi, of course, has a pretty good track record when it comes to this sort of thing, as the world’s number one luxury car manufacturer. But it remains to be seen if it can play catch up with the industry leaders, or whether it’s stuck in the petrol and diesel era. The new A8 certainly looks like a car to beat, but whether consumers will want it remains to be seen.