LONDON — Audi's United Kingdom arm issued a press release, saying that the "Q7 hybrid is expected to go on sale in its first markets toward the end of 2008." Despite that latest word confirming Audi's plans to enter the hybrid frenzy, Audi of America is still not offering a U.S. timetable for the release of the hybrid SUV.

"Although we continue to evaluate Audi Q7 prototypes such as the latest version with the 3.6L V-6 FSI engine with hybrid technology, no announcement on U.S. feasibility or timing has been released," Christian Bokich, Audi of America manager of product and technology communications told Inside Line via e-mail on Friday. Bokich added that the Audi Q7 TDI V6's arrival in early 2009 "is the only decision that has been made as far as expanding the Audi Q7 lineup in the U.S."

Audi U.K. said the Q7 hybrid combines the "familiar" 270-horsepower 3.6L FSI gasoline engine with an electric motor situated in the drivetrain powered by a 288-volt nickel metal hydride battery, which adds 50 horsepower. The company said, "The Q7 hybrid reduces fuel consumption, and therefore CO2 output, by approximately 23 percent compared with the Q7 3.6L FSI as we know it today."

Audi's foray into hybrid technology has been hampered by delays in the development process. It was widely believed that the Q7 hybrid would not arrive in any markets until 2009 at the earliest.