New Audi TT could be reinvented as an electric sports car

The next Audi TT is set to go electric, with various battery layouts being looked at. Our exclusive images preview how it could look

The under-threat Audi TT may have a future after all, after it emerged that the company’s technical boss is trying to convince his fellow board members to develop a successor to the sports car with pure-electric power.

The prospects for Audi’s iconic small sports car, which made its debut more than 20 years ago, have been increasingly in doubt thanks to modest overall sales and ever-tightening CO2 emissions legislation. Audi sources have suggested that one idea could be to develop a four-door ‘TT Sportback’ successor to the current Mk3 model.

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However, speaking exclusively to Auto Express, Audi’s recently appointed board member for technical development, Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, said that he is “fighting” to keep a two-door sports car in the line-up.

“At Audi, we need cars like the two-door TT,” Rothenpieler told us. “It is in the DNA of our brand. I’m really fighting for this car and I’ll try to convince my colleagues that we have to do it.

“But there is a second point, a second story. We have to move all of those cars, like the TT, into an electrified future. The current status with this car and its platform is that it is prepared only until EU7 [even tougher emissions regulations that could kick in by 2021].

“We have started a discussion now about what’s happening after that point, but there’s also another debate, which I actually believe is significantly more important, on how to have cars like the TT with electric technology. We need answers to both of these issues.”

Rothenpieler admitted that talks on the TT’s electrified future include the idea of both plug-in hybrid and pure-electric models. However, he also revealed that the discussions on a BEV version, previewed here by our exclusive images, are at an advanced enough stage for different battery layouts to be under consideration.

“For cars like the TT, the battery in the floor is a problem,” he said. “Normally in a pure-electric car, you have a wheel at each corner and the battery pack in the centre, and the pack is 12 or 13 centimetres tall. But this makes the base of the seating point higher.

“So for small, sporty cars with only two seats, we need a different concept – such as one bit of the battery in the centre of the car and another bit in front of the front wheels, or behind the rear wheels. Either way, we end up splitting the battery. And that’s what we’re looking at for these iconic cars. That’s a solution that could work, perhaps.”

The boardroom battle on the future of Audi’s sports cars also includes the R8, although its prospects are also likely to be linked to what happens with the smallest Lamborghini supercar on sale, the Huracán.

Rothenpieler added: “It’s the same with the R8, really. We have been talking about the R8 and the TT, but when we presented the e-tron GT, it’s an iconic car as well, a real statement. For me, the e-tron GT was the first step towards having an electrified car with Audi Sport RS in its DNA.

“It’s a bit bigger, that car, so it was still possible to use the normal battery layout. But if we talk about R8 then yes, we have to divide the battery system, in the same way as we have to with the TT.”

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