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Exhaust Notes

Audi Planning to Build Scooter, Compact Minivan?

For Europe and Asia, perhaps these small Audis would work -- but Americans wouldn't think that small.

By Clifford Atiyeh Jul 18, 2012 12:09PM
Audi e-bike (c) AudiWith Audi's purchase of Italian motorcycle company Ducati in April for $1.1 billion, there just had to be something in it for the Germans.

Audi scooter, anyone?

Autocar magazine dropped by the new "Audi City" retail store in London this week and got a marketing director to go on record about the possibility of a 2-wheeled Audi. While it would be designed with Ducati's expertise, it wouldn't be a rebadge, the magazine said, but a lower-speed bike meant specifically for dense urban areas such as those in various parts of Asia. BMW, which has been building its own motorcycles for decades, is coming out with a city scooter for just that purpose.

Last year, Audi partnered with Renovo, a Portland, Ore.-based bicycle manufacturer, to sell a hardwood-framed bicycle branded as the Audi duo. In May, Audi built its own bicycle concept (pictured above) with a carbon-fiber frame and an electric motor that can reach speeds of 50 mph.

If we're to believe Autocar's cocktail-fueled conversation with the Audi rep -- well, we assume cocktail-fueled; alcohol during press events seems to be required -- the automaker also will consider a competitor to the Ford S-Max, the 7-seat compact minivan sold in Europe. (That's not to be confused with the C-Max, a 5-seat minivan/crossover that will be sold here only as a hybrid.) Audi is already stuffed with Qs: the Q3, Q5 and Q7 crossovers are on the market now, and soon there will be a Q2, a raised version of the subcompact A1; a Q4, to compete with the Range Rover Evoque; and a Q6, aiming for the BMW X6. Could there be another letter of the alphabet Audi might consider for a vanlike vehicle?

In any case, short minivans like the inexpensive Mazda5 don't sell well here, while pricey 7-passenger SUVs such as the Q7 and Buick Enclave do. Americans already make do without an Audi scooter or an Audi minivan, so even if the concepts do pique your interest, don't count on them coming here.

[Source: Autocar.]

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