As the year draws to an end, let us take a look back down memory lane on the cars that made an impact on our lives. Here, we pay tribute to several four-wheeled cars that stood out, and also ghastly cars that nobody remembers. This time, we take a look at a very “left winged” car from Ingolstadt, Germany.
It’s no secret that Audi takes their motto – Vorsprung durch Technic (loosely translated in English as the art of progress) – very seriously. The Four Rings’ engineering expertise remains unquestioned, from pioneering crucial all-wheel drive technology to the vast array of electronics and technology built into every Audi car. However, not many knew that Audi also toyed with a drive technology that was quickly mastered by Toyota. That’s right, it’s the hybrid technology we’re referring to.
Audi’s first foray into hybrid powertrain began in 1989 in the guise of an Audi Duo. Eight years later, they conceived the A4 Avant-based Audi Duo Mk3 and became the first European manufacturer to mass-produce a hybrid vehicle. Subsequently, the hybrid powertrain was offered to the fourth generation Audi A6 (C7 model). Initially, the plan was to offer the A6 Hybrid for the North American market, because you know, driving a hybrid like the Toyota Prius is cool and sexy – that’s if you’re Cameron Diaz. True story, though.
Back in 2013, the sales of hybrid vehicles skyrocketed thanks to the extension of hybrid vehicles incentives from Budget 2012. As the Toyota Prius, Lexus CT200H and Honda Insight became common purchases during that period, it didn’t take long for Euromobil (Audi’s franchise holder and sole distributor in Malaysia back then) to jump at the opportunity to introduce a premium hybrid saloon. In January 2013, the Audi A6 Hybrid arrived, fully decked out at a price nobody could resist.
The A6 Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder engine that’s paired to an electric motor, and together they produce 245 hp and 480 Nm of torque. The car is capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds before it maxes out at 240 km/h. Fuel consumption however, is conservatively rated at 6.2 litres per 100km. While hitting 3km (in full EV mode) via its 1.3 kWh lithium-ion battery isn’t impressive compared to other modern hybrids, having to fork out just over RM280,000 for a fully-imported premium German saloon is a bargain no one could afford to miss.
How much will it cost without the incentive, then? RM450,000. If you walked into a showroom and a salesperson told you that, what would you do? Naturally, it didn’t take long for the A6 Hybrid to find new homes in affluent neighbourhoods across Malaysia.
However, in late 2014, the executives in Ingolstadt realised that only 4,000 units of the A6 Hybrid were sold and 80 percent of them landed in Asia, with Malaysia being the highest recipient of the model. Such disappointing figures had prompted Audi to axe the A6 Hybrid, cutting short its lifespan down to three years. Not making the car available for voluminous market like the US is one reason why the A6 Hybrid didn’t to so well sales wise, but the key reason for its short lifespan is the Malaysian government’s decision to ‘revise’ the National Automotive Policy. That was the final nail to the coffin. Subsequently, prices for the Toyota Prius, Prius C and Nissan Leaf flew sky high (up to 50 percent), which made no sense for Euromobil to continue selling it.
At the used car market today, some units of the A6 Hybrid can be found going for about RM180k to RM200k – close to 45 percent depreciation after two years. Nevertheless, Audi’s venture into alternative powertrains continues, as proven by the Q5 and A8 Hybrid’s existence. They are also working on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with the Q6 h-tron concept, whereas their electrification technology is put to good use at the all-electric racing series, Formula E. At least for now, the future for Ingolstadt certainly seems electrifying.
So, how should the A6 Hybrid be remembered? Despite its short-lived success, Malaysia became the country with the highest number of A6 Hybrids sold, even more than its country of origin! It’s probably safe to say that the A6 Hybrid Owners’ Club in Malaysia is perhaps the most active A6 Hybrid clubs in the world, if only such a club existed. Does it?
Next time, we’ll look into a car that was formally launched by its principal in only TWO countries, one of which is Malaysia. Can you guess the car?