Audi has set up a new division to develop and produce a range of high-priced "e-tron" electric cars starting in 2012.
The e-tron subbrand's first vehicle will be based on an electric sports car concept shown at the Frankfurt auto show last autumn.
Insiders said Audi also is likely to approve production of a smaller e-tron sports car concept unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January. Both cars will have an e-tron badge but also will have individual names.
"You can assume we'll have not just one but two or three or even more electric cars," said Filip Brabec, general manager of product planning for Audi of America.
The e-tron unit has about 100 employees and is headed by Franciscus van Meel, senior vice president of vehicle electrification at Audi AG in Ingolstadt, Germany.
Production of the Frankfurt car, which uses the underpinnings of the two-seat R8 supercar and is similar in size and shape, will begin at 100 units a year, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said.
Volume is expected to grow to 1,000 units, but Audi executives did not provide further details about volume plans.
Initial e-tron production will be low.
"We want to listen to the customer," Stadler said. "It will be a different experience with the electric car in terms of usage, noise, torque quality and our engineers need to get familiar with customer needs."
Audi already has a working prototype of the first electric car, Stadler said. He also said "it would make sense" for Audi to build the concept shown in Detroit, which is similar in size to the TT sports car.