Audi’s serious about deploying hybrid technology throughout its product portfolio.To this end the company is developing a new four-cylinder hybrid version of its A8 limousine.Due for release by 2012, the A8 hybrid will feature an 180kW combined output drivetrain, comprising the company’s 2.0 TFSI engine and an electric motor.Parallel logicUnlike like other hybrids which use the augmented electric power to turn one of the drive axles, Audi’s engineers have decided on a parallel configuration. By positioning the 33kW electric motor between the internal combustion engine’s output shaft and transmission, the additional urge is evenly distributed via Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.Although performance figures are not yet available for statistical analysis and comparison, the A8 hybrid should replicate the responsiveness of a conventional large capacity six-cylinder engine. Eric Felber, a spokesman for Audi said, has no doubt concerning its applicability. "Downsizing shouldn’t limit driving characteristics. It’s important to offer a certain degree of performance in this segment."In congested city traffic the A8 hybrid’s ability to trundle about full electric mode is sure to minimise the big Audi’s fuel consumption. Some analysts may question Audi’s decision to develop a fuel efficient version of its headline model (where buyers are not in the least concerned about fuel bills). Image is everything though and being green is very much in vogue. Of course there is the added issue of Mercedes-Benz launching its new fuel efficient S250 CDi and S400 hybrid models soon and possibly exploiting a new market niche all to itself.By expanding its electric car offering, Audi hopes to increase its electric-vehicle market share to 3% of total sales by 2018.