The future of the Audi A1 is in doubt, due to the costs of electrifying small cars relative to the list prices that they can command, Audi boss Markus Duesmann has revealed.

Speaking to jounalists prior to the unveiling of the E-tron GT, Duesmann made it clear that a successor to today’s premium supermini – now in its second generation and sharing its platform with the Seat Ibiza, Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo – is looking unlikely.

He said: “We do discuss what we do with the small segments. In the A1 segment, we have some other brands [in the Volkswagen Group] who are active there and very successful, with very high production, so we do question the A1 at the moment.”

“We will certainly offer Q2s [small SUVs] and the like,” he continued. “That might be the new entry level for us; we might not do anything smaller.”

The future of small cars has come under sharp focus in recent years. Profit margins have become extremely slim as manufacturers battle to meet stricter legislative and safety requirements, reduce emissions and offer a greater array of technology yet still sell at a palatable price to a market now more interested in SUVs.

The cost of electrifying small cars is proving an even tougher problem, although Volkswagen brand CEO Ralf Brandstätter has said that he’s committed to producing an electric ‘people’s car’ with a starting price below £18,000 as part of the ID range.

Despite this difficulty, Audi’s forward-thinking Artemis division is understood to be working on an electric successor to the 1999 A2 supermini, based on the AI:ME concept shown two years ago.

When asked if this will be a direct rebirth, Duesmann said: “Maybe not exactly with that design, but I like the A2. Certainly we discuss the A2 segment as well. So it might be an A2 or an ‘E2’, or an A3 or an ‘E3’. We’re at the moment discussing that.”

Duesmann also discussed Audi reducing its regular ICE model range to prevent overlap with the influx of EVs.

“We have to cut back,” he said. “As we look at Q4 E-tron [SUV], we have a model where we have similar combustion-engine-powered models, and certainly we don’t want to have the same portfolio electrically.

“We make purpose-built electric cars because we can offer more functionality [that way], so we will certainly cut back our combustion portfolio in the next 10 years. We have to and we will.

“As we have so many synergies in the Volkswagen Group, maybe we can have a few more models than others.”

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