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Last year, Audi announced it was killing off plans to offer a hybrid Q7 in the U.S. and several months later the automaker exacted the same fate on its little brother the Q5. Now, word comes from Wolfgan Hatz, head of powertrain development for the Volkswagen Group, that Audi will begin offering a hybrid version of the Q5 in the States late next year.

Hatz makes it clear in his interview with Automotive News that the Audi Q5 hybrid aims to compete with the Lexus RX450h and the forthcoming BMW X6 hybrid, but it's not part of a full-scale assault on the luxury gas-electric CUV set. According to Hatz, diesel technology makes more fiscal sense due to the costs associated with developing a hybrid system -- somewhere between three to four times more -- when compared to adapting a standard drivetrain to accommodate a diesel. Naturally, Hatz hopes that once development of the hybrid setup is complete it can proliferate throughout the Audi lineup. The 2011 Q5 will initially be launched in the U.S. and if it proves to be a success, hybrid Q5s could be sold in Europe.

Click above for a high-res gallery of the Q5 Audi

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