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Detroit Auto Show: Audi Unveils Revamped A8/S8, New Q3 Compact SUV

Audi S8 - P 2014
Audi S8

Audi America president Scott Keogh tells THR that integrating Google's Android operating system does not threaten Audi's autonomy.

DETROIT -- Audi introduced updated A8 and S8 sedans at the North American International Auto Show on Monday and took the wraps off an all-wheel drive e-tron concept plug-in hybrid that offers a preview of some of the design features likely to be found in Audi's revamped TT roadster. 

Audi also said it will launch the new Audi Q3 compact SUV in the fall.

The Q3 and new A3 sedan -- the latter was introduced at the Los Angeles auto show in November -- are part of Audi's plan "to make a lot of noise in the entry-level luxury market," said Scott Keogh, president of Audi America, at a press conference. Keogh said the crossover SUV market alone is expected to grow 400 percent over the next five years.

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The revamped A8 and S8, available in summer 2015, get a redesign fascia,  the same 4G-LTE WiFi connectivity introduced on the A3 earlier this year and a suite of driver-assistance technologies that include  active lane assist, secondary collision assist, a heads up display and parking assist -- precursors to what Audi and other carmakers anticipate will eventually be fully self-driving cars in the near future.

Audi made waves at the International CES show in Las Vegas recently when it announced a partnership to integrate Google's Android operating system into its cars' navigation systems. The move was confirmation of the increasing co-dependence between third-party tech companies like Google -- and Qualcomm, which supplies the Audi's WiFi connectivity -- and automakers.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on Monday, Keogh dismissed the notion that by partnering with Qualcomm and integrating Android into its cars, it risks giving Google, especially, which has been relentless in inserting itself into new markets like smartphones, a disproportionate role in Audi's infotainment interface.

"If you look at Google, I think we do a very smart solution, Keogh told THR. "Really, all you're doing a the very end of the day is, we have WiFi imbedded in the car via Qualcomm just like you do with your laptop.  I think there's a myth that says all of a sudden we're handcuffed as a company -- am I an Android car or am I an [Apple] iOS car? That's not really the case. Right now you have Google in all of our cars, but of course we have great capabilities with Apple as well. We're always looking for the best solution, and if you look at maps, it's Google. That's what I use, that's what everyone uses. They're the masters, we integrate them smart."

Keogh said it was Audi that ultimately defined the user experience in its cars, not Google. "Our whole thing is interface and design, because there are thousands of pieces of technology in a car. And how we seamlessly integrate that -- that's Audi."