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Audi exec hints at Q9 SUV details; no plans for model below A1

by Justin King

New range-topping SUV would be offered with e-tron hybrid option.

Audi's chief executive has all but confirmed that the larger Q9 SUV is still under development, while dismissing the possibility of introducing a model below the A1.

Talking at the Beijing Motor Show, Rupert Stadler reportedly suggested a new flagship SUV takes precedence over a range-topping addition to the company's A-series car lineup. Full details remain unclear, though it promises to be offered with an optional e-tron hybrid drivetrain.

"We want to expand the SUV side of the business," Stadler said, as quoted by Car Magazine. "By 2020, our Q-models will account for over 45 percent of sales."

The company first hinted at the project early last year, acknowledging room to "go bigger" than the Q7 and offer the largest SUV in the segment. Trademark filings submitted late last year pointed to Q9 as the likely name.

The executive suggests Audi will not make a larger SUV in reaction to "what our rivals are doing." The company faces fresh competition in the space, however, namely the all-new BMW X7.

Despite feeling pressure in the market for bigger SUVs, Stadler argues that there is "no need" to add a car smaller than the A1. The hatchback is said to have reached annual sales of 120,000 units with "quite good" profit margins.

Previous reports place the Q9's arrival sometime in 2017.