AUBURN HILLS, MI - Audi AG’s plan to develop a hybrid version of its Audi Q7 luxury SUV is on hold because the automaker has decided it wants to introduce its smaller Q5 SUV as a hybrid with a more advanced battery that remains under development, according to The decision, first reported by European car magazine Autocar, was made because Audi thinks hybrid systems are more sensible in smaller vehicles and because it wants to introduce the vehicle with lithium-ion batteries instead of nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Nickel-metal hydride batteries are used in hybrid vehicles today while lithium-ion batteries remain under development for the automotive industry. Audi had said it would introduce the Q7 Hybrid during the fourth quarter of this year.

The Q7 is longer, wider and taller than the sporty Q5, which is to go on sale early next year. There is no official timeframe for the Q5 hybrid, but Autocar speculated it could debut in 2010.

Audi still plans to introduce a diesel version of the Q7 in the United States during the first quarter of 2009.