Audi is reportedly planning a rugged SUV to challenge the Defender, the G-Class

Audi may be close to deciding whether to put a rugged electric SUV into production to go head-to-head with similar models in the luxury segment, such as upcoming electric versions of the Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

The information was reported by Autocar on Thursday following an interview with Marc Lichte, Audi’s design chief.

Lichte is said to have said that there was room for such a vehicle from Audi because there were only two real alternatives in the premium segment, namely the models mentioned above. He also reportedly said Audi needed such a vehicle given its successful history in off-road racing – something that continues into the electric age with the RS Q E-Tron off-roaders used in the Dakar Rally in recent years. The RS Q E-Tron program serves as a testbed for the development of electric all-wheel drive systems, dubbed Quattro 2.0 by Audi.

Interestingly, on Thursday Audi unveiled the Activespherr concept, a coupe-like crossover with a high ride height and rear bed complete with a sloping tailgate.

Audi Activesphere concept

Audi Activesphere concept

Autocar reckons that any rugged Audi SUV would ride on an electric body-on-frame platform being developed by Volkswagen, another Volkswagen Group brand, for its forthcoming Scout SUV and pickup truck. Due in 2026, the Scouts will be built in the US, and it’s likely that any Audi SUV that shares a platform with the Scouts would also share a factory.

There is speculation that VW wants to outsource production of the Scout to a contract manufacturer such as Foxconn or Magna. The Magna subsidiary Magna Steyr in Austria is the company that builds the G-Class for Mercedes and also helped develop the vehicle.

A senior Magna executive said in September the company was looking for a location to build an EV factory in the United States

According to Autocar, the new Audi could hit the market around 2027 if its development is given the green light. Stay tuned.