Autocar confidential: Mercedes’ China prophesy, Audi’s R8 options and more

In this week’s round-up of automotive gossip, we tap Mercedes’ brain on the future of China, quiz Audi Sport on the prospect of an electric R8, hear why Renault is focusing on design and more.

Mercedes’ China prediction

Mercedes predicts that China’s car market will recover over the next five to ten years, despite it dropping significantly in the past 18 months. “It remains the place we see the biggest growth potential,” said CEO Ola Källenius. “We haven’t experienced a large fall, but for everyone I still see potential for expansion there.”

Audi Sport keeps R8 options open

Audi Sport isn’t yet saying whether the next-gen R8 will go electric. Joint MD Julius Seebach said all options were open. For now, it has a strong future in its current generation, not only as a road car but also as a base for the R8 GT3 customer racer that is the most commercially successful GT3 car in the racing world. This makes the future of the R8 a more complex consideration than simply as a flagship road car.

Renault’s design emphasis

Renault must emphasise the design of its cars and their high level of technical innovations in order to grow sales, according to Vincent Tourette, who has led the firm’s UK arm since 2018. Tourette said Renault’s approach had “been a bit hectic” over the past 15 years and that his goal is to create a sustainable future for the firm and its dealer network.

Toyota’s Prius commitment 

Toyota says the Prius has a strong future even as the industry shifts to full EVs. “We’re planning our fifth and sixth-generation hybrid systems and I can see the Prius continuing,” said European vice president Matt Harrison. Don’t expect the Prius name to morph onto an EV, either; Harrison says it’s synonymous with hybrid technology.