It feels like the Volkswagen Group is either revealing or announcing a new electric vehicle on a weekly basis. Take for example Audi, which introduced the Q5 E-Tron last Friday, and now it's disclosing plans for a new flagship EV. In an interview with RTL Info, the head honcho of the Four Rings shared plans to launch the Q8 E-Tron in 2026.
The 52-year-old executive went on to say the zero-emissions SUV will serve as a replacement for the E-Tron, Audi's largest electric model on sale today. Its successor will be an entirely different vehicle since it will ride on a dedicated EV platform whereas the E-Tron uses an adaptation of the MLB architecture, which has underpinned everything from the VW Touareg to the Bentley Bentayga.
Much like the E-Tron, the Q8 E-Tron is going to be assembled in Belgium, specifically at the factory in Forest, a municipality located in Brussels. At the same plant, Audi builds the swoopy E-Tron Sportback, with both body styles spawning a high-performance S version with a tri-motor setup. Before being replaced in roughly four years from now, the E-Tron will be getting a nip and tuck in 2022 as evidenced in our fresh spy shots.
Despite the camouflage, it's easy to see the prototype has slimmer headlights and a redesigned grille with hexagonal elements replacing the horizontal and vertical lines of the current E-Tron. The side profile shows the vehicle was equipped with cameras instead of traditional mirrors, while the back reveals mildly updated LED graphics for the taillights.
The changes will go beyond the typical nip and tuck as reports say Audi's engineers will install a new battery pack while making the electric motors more efficient to squeeze out more range. The E-Tron Sportback is going to receive the same updates and both should be revealed next year before being retired in 2026 to make room for the Q8 E-Tron. It's too soon to say whether the latter will also get the Sportback treatment, but knowing Ingolstadt's modus operandi, a coupe-styled derivative seems like a safe bet to make.
Also coming next year is the Q6 E-Tron, Audi's first model to ride on the PPE platform co-developed with Porsche, which will launch the next-gen Macan exclusively as an EV and likely with a different moniker.