Audi to make electric cars

The new SUV Audi Q5 is shown at the Auto China 2008 show in Beijing on April 20, 2008. REUTERS/Victor Fraile

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Audi, the luxury unit of Volkswagen VOWG.DE, will make cars with no exhaust emissions within ten years, its top executive has told a German weekly.

Rupert Stadler told Welt am Sonntag in an interview published on Sunday that he saw great opportunities in electric cars and expected diesel and battery technology to dominate in the coming five to ten years.

“By then we will offer cars without exhaust emissions,” Stadler said.

Asked if Audi was not lagging domestic rivals Mercedes DAIGn.DE and BMW BMWG.DE in the development of lithium-ion batteries that are more powerful than batteries used now in hybrids, Stadler said Audi's research capacities were larger than those of its German competitors.

“Electric cars offer great opportunities, which we have already seized on,” Stadler said without elaborating.

Developing fuel-saving technology tops the agenda of Germany’s car industry in an effort to fulfil stricter emission regulations and conserve fuel.

BMW has said it would decide this year whether to build an electric vehicle, while U.S. carmaker General Motors GM.N plans to roll out its Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric car in 2010.