Audi is seen to be too dependent on technology developed by the Volkswagen engineers and has lost its competitive edge agains BMW's true market-leading innovations.
Durheimer's dismissal could end up putting Audi even further behind. The A1 and R8 e-trons would have had to take on BMW's i3 and i8, both built around bespoke platforms that made extensive use of advanced materials.
But Mercedes also seems willing to drop further development of electric cars and vans.
Durheimer reportedly made SUV and new design language his top priority, which is understandable. It would be a real shame to have him leave the German group, especially after what he did for Bentley and Bugatti.