Audi Designer Sparks Rumors About Electric Offroad Contender for the G-Class and Defender

RS Q E-Tron - test laboratory in the desert 6 photos
Photo: Audi
Electric Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse conceptLand River Defender - electric version on its wayTeaser of the first Scout SUVTesla Cybertruck most unconventional electric truckRivian is basically the first mass production electric offroader
Audi is part of the Volkswagen Group, and it shares a lot of its models’ platforms with “cousins” from Porsche and Volkswagen. For instance, Audi Q7/Q8 has the same underpinnings as Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg. But now a new offroad SUV could be in the works, and it seems like a huge surprise.
You never know what secrets can be unintentionally revealed when interviewing important people in car companies. It might be the case of a recent discussion that the British magazine Autocar had with Marc Lichte, Audi’s chief designer from 2014 onwards.

Basically, he referred to a possible competitor for two electric offroad SUVs that are going to be revealed by the mid of this decade. Real offroaders, as in “I can climb Everest after shopping at the mall”. Something that regular SUVs are not meant for.

The electric variant of the Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse is planned to  go into production in 2024. We still don’t know if the EQG nameplate will be its official name. The electric Land Rover Defender is slated for production sometime in 2025 and it has already been warmly welcomed by fans.

Japanese trio Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, and Mitsubishi Pajero are nowhere in sight for electrification. But the offroad EV hype is already gaining momentum thanks to Tesla Cybertruck or Rivian. It’s only natural for Audi to want a slice of luxury pie for those who can afford expensive adventures.

The only problem is Audi’s lack of a notorious offroad nameplate. Of course, the “Quattro” and “Allroad” are well-known by now to the brand’s fans, but they were never imprinted on a true Audi offroader. Except for the racing machines, like Audi Quattro 2.0 in the ‘80s.

The only logical solution is for this possible new Audi offroader to be developed using Scout’s platform. As you already know by now, Scout is the newest brand acquisition of VW Group. Scout SUVs and pick-ups will be real offroaders, with ladder chassis and generous ground clearance.

Still, developing a competitive platform is very challenging. I mean, the first generation of the VW Amarok wasn’t impressive at all, that’s why the new Amarok is based on Ford Ranger’s platform. And we all know Ford rules the pick-up kingdom.

Also, Ford is taking big steps toward electrification of its 4x4 and rugged models. Even the Bronco is tipped to go electric in a few years. And this leads to a second logical assumption: the Scouts could be closely related to the Broncos. It’s a long shot, but it technically makes sense.

While the Scout brand will emphasize pragmatism, we expect the new possible-but-not-officially-confirmed Audi electric offroad to be more premium because of a completely different design and luxurious equipment. In the same way, VW Touareg is positioned lower than Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, despite the fact they use the same underpinnings.

There’s no other way if you want to compete with G-Klasse and Defender, which today show no trace of the spartan character that defined them back in the day. If you need another hint of a future Audi offroader, just think about the RS Q E-Tron that was thrown into the battle for Dakar Rally in 2022.

It’s advertised as a “test laboratory in the desert” and Audi is the first car manufacturer to use an electric drivetrain in combination with an efficient energy converter (a fancy way for an ICE-based range-extender) to compete against conventionally powered competitors.

The only question remaining now is related to the recent Activesphere bold concept. It clearly is a hint to a possible offroad EV mixing modern design and old-school traits for serious adventures. Is the new Audi electric offroader going to adopt a similar out-of-the-box (pun intended!) design?

It's a tough question, raising other questions. But for now, let’s stick to the big IF in “if Audi is going to build a real deal offroader.” On the other hand, maybe Audi is already testing the crowd for such an idea, and this rumor is just part of an awareness campaign. So, now it’s your turn to have an opinion on this.
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About the author: Oraan Marc
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After graduating college with an automotive degree, Oraan went for a journalism career. 15 years went by and another switch turned him from a petrolhead into an electrohead, so watch his profile for insight into green tech, EVs of all kinds and alternative propulsion systems.
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