TURIN -- Audi is reluctantly using the Q1 badge for its new compact SUV after failing to gain permission from Fiat Chrysler to call it the Q2, a name held by Alfa Romeo.
Audi wanted to avoid using Q1 because the name is too close to the Audi A1 minicar, company sources said. The A1 is based on the VW Polo subcompact and is smaller than the Q1.
Audi approached Fiat for permission to use the Q2 name but received no answer, Audi sources said. Audi would have paid Fiat Chrysler a “significant” amount of money for the Q2 name, one source with knowledge of the matter said.
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been sparring with Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech over Alfa Romeo. Marchionne has told VW, which owns Audi, to "drop" its efforts to acquire Alfa.
When asked about the matter, Fiat Chrysler told Automotive News Europe that it was not aware of any approach from Audi over vehicle names.
Audi uses the Q badge for its SUV/crossovers, which include the Q3 compact, the Q5 midsize and the large Q7. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said earlier this month that the automaker is "working heavily" on a range-topping Q8 to go on sale before 2020.
Audi said Dec. 27 it will begin building the Q1 at its Ingolstadt, Germany, factory in 2016.
The five-door Q1 will be positioned below the Q3 and compete with cars such as the Mini Countryman. The Q1 will go on sale in Europe in mid-2016 and may be sold in China, but a U.S. launch is unlikely because the vehicle is considered too small to appeal to American buyers.
The Q1 is underpinned by VW Group's MQB modular architecture, which is also used for the A3. It will have a roof 10mm higher than the three-door A3 hatchback, and a higher seating position and will be offered with front-wheel drive or Quattro all-wheel drive, according to company insiders.
Audi sources say the brand has not asked Fiat Chrysler to permission to use the Q4 name for a planned crossover version of the TT compact sports car, despite media reports saying it has. Q4 is currently used by Maserati, a Fiat Chrysler brand, for its Quattroporte and Ghibli 4wd variants.
The TT crossover likely will be called the TTQ. The car was previewed by the TT Offroad Concept at the 2014 Beijing auto show. A planned production version will be a sportier twin to the Q5 in the same way as the BMW X3 has a sportier version called the X4.
Audi is expanding its product lineup in the booming and lucrative premium SUV segment as part of its goal to replace BMW as the top-selling global luxury carmaker by the end of the decade.
Audi’s Q line of SUVs and crossovers will grow to about 30 percent of the brand’s global sales by 2020 from about 25 percent now, according to Stadler.
The Q1 will attract new customers, especially young buyers, to the brand, he said. “The smaller Qs give you volume growth, the bigger Qs give you image, prestige, revenues and margins,” he told Automotive News Europe in an interview published in December 2013.