Audi Planning Big Electric e-tron 4X4 SUV

There’s a rumor circulating amongst the UK and European press that Audi is seriously considering and may even be moving forward with a large rugged SUV in the vein of the Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. Below is summary of what we’ve read, what we know and a few renderings generated by our @4Rings.AI Instagram account to help visualize.

From CAR Magazine (UK), there are direct quotes from Audi design boss Marc Lichte. “If you look at the VW Group, there will be a really rugged SUV platform in the future – and I’m not talking about the one with Ford,” said Lichte.

He’s also not likely talking about the PPE architecture that will underpin many of Audi’s upcoming EV offerings including the first-out-of-the-gate Q6 crossover. Both CAR Magazine and AutoCar Magazine hinted at sharing the upcoming platform with brand startup Scout.

If that’s the case, then the hardware changes a bit. The rumor around Scout is that it’s launching with new architecture and no doubt will have a drivetrain more acclimated to serious off-roading. While the Q6 will be developed to be more of a luxurious everyday crossover, the Scout is fully intended to be substantively aimed at the off-roader sect. A more luxurious Audi-derived version would likely benefit from the same hardware bag of tricks, making it a serious EV contender to the Land Rover and Mercedes.

Regarding the design, Lichte commented further to CAR, “I’m a big fan of really rugged SUVs. There’s potential for us because there are only two premium players– I think there’s space for a third. Lichte alluded that some of the activesphere’s details could make it into the design, things like its flared wheel arches and toothed side sills. “With our history of quattro and rally successes in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it will not look like a copy of the Defender, I can promise you,” he is quoted.

The Audi is expected to draw on Audi’s affinity for four-wheel drive while taking cues from from the rest of the Audi range. R&D boss Oliver Hoffmann said to AutoCar, “In the US market, there is a big market of rugged SUVs, and we’re looking at how a rugged SUV can look based on Audi technology.”

Frankly, a more extreme take on such an SUV could also pull from the RSQ e-tron vehicle campaigned in the Dakar Rally over the last two years. While no doubt the Defender of the G-Wagen spell out a likely higher-volume product, something harkening Dakar would definitely be more of a halo product. Looking at the RSQ-inspired renderings created, it’s easy to see how that would be both a compelling case and, like the R8, wouldn’t hurt spawning a Lamborghini version that could easily pass as spiritual successor to the LM 002 of the 1980s.

CAR expects Audi’s Defender fighting SUV by 2026, while UK magazine rival AutoCar is projecting a 2027 arrival. AutoCar also says Scout platform and built in the USA. That would make sense given it’ll likely be the only factory at that point building with this architecture, not to mention more recent EV rebate laws that would highly encourage domestic manufacturing. Scout has already revealed its upcoming 1,600-acre, $2 billion facility will be located in Blythewood, about 20 miles north of Columbia and will employ 4,000 people.