Mike Stevens | Nov 29, 2010

Despite stiff competition from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Audi has declared its goal of leading the premium electric vehicle segment by 2020.

With the help of parent company and world number-two carmaker Volkswagen, also driving to lead the world's EV market by 2018, it seems Audi has a better-than-even chance of achieving its goal.

Speaking at Audi's German headquarters this week, electric mobility boss Franciscus van Meel laid the carmaker's plans bare.

"By 2020, we want to be the leading premium seller of electric vehicles. We will successively bring out a variety of hybrid models and electric vehicles, such as our first plug-in hybrid in 2014," Mr van Meel said.

"Today we're assuming that our sales of Audi e-tron electric cars will rise to a six-figure volume by 2020."

Audi's limited edition e-tron - essentially an all-electric version of the R8 supercar - is scheduled to enter production in 2012, and hybrid versions of the large A8 sedan and the Q5 compact SUV are expected to debut around the same time.

The German carmaker isn't putting all of its eggs in the electric and hybrid basket, however. By 2020, the company aims to have improved the efficiency of its conventional petrol and diesel engines by 30 percent.

Hybrid and EVs will account for only five percent of its line-up.

While Audi will undoubtedly benefit from parent Volkswagen's research, it won't be entirely on VW's coat-tails that the luxury brand achieves its electric dreams.

To help it get there, Audi has opened a 65 million euro 14,000 square-metre electric-drive development centre at its headquarters in Germany, where it will employ 840 people.

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