Audi is launching its electrification offensive with the world premiere of the e-tron SUV – the German manufacturer’s first fully electrically-powered series production model.
The four-wheel-drive electric SUV, which is powered by two electric motors (positioned at the front and rear axles), is the first of what will eventually be twelve all-electric models that Audi aims to launch by 2025. The Volkswagen-owned brand says it wants to achieve roughly one-third of its sales with electrified models.
And the SUVs in this new portfolio will not only include the e-tron but also the e-tron Sportback, which is due to make its debut in 2019 – and which was previewed as a concept car at lasts year’s Shanghai motor show.
Although both new SUVs are based on Audi’s existing modular longitudinal platform (MLB), the company’s future electric models, which are set to include ‘classic’ body layouts such as Avant and Sportback, will be based on an all-new electric platform that Audi is currently jointly developing with fellow Volkswagen-owned brand Porsche.
Dubbed “Premium Platform Electric”, or “PPE” for short, it will be the basis for multiple Audi model families with all-electric drive covering the high-volume B (supermini) to D (mid-size saloon) segments of the market.
The first beneficiary of this new e-platform will be the e-tron GT concept car. Described as “a highly dynamic coupe with a flat floor assembly”, it is set to make its debut later on this year at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Returning to the e-tron SUV, Audi claims it will deliver a driving range of “at least 248 miles” on a single charge in the WLTP test cycle, with up to 30 per cent of that range being delivered by a specially developed recuperation system that works in two ways: by means of coasting recuperation when the driver releases the accelerator, or by means of braking recuperation when the brake pedal is depressed.
On long trips drivers will also be able to use fast charging stations to charge with direct current (DC) at up to 150 kW, which is a first for any series-production car. Using this method, Audi says an 80% charge is attainable in around 30 minutes.
Charging at home, meanwhile, with an alternating current (AC) at up to 11 kW, will take somewhere around 8.5 hours for a full recharge; using an optional 22 kW charger will cut that time in half.
In terms of power, the e-tron is claimed to generate up to 402 bhp and 487 lb-ft of torque, while 0-60 mph is said to take 5.7 seconds. Top speed is electronically-limited to 124 mph.
Stylistically, standing 4,901 mm long, 1,935 mm wide and 1,616 mm high, the new model looks like a regular Audi on the outside, retaining the brand’s conventional design hallmarks such as the ‘Singleframe’ grille.
However, one standout design and technology feature are the optional ‘virtual exterior mirrors’ – another worldwide first in a series production model. When equipped with the slimline, camera-based mirrors, the e-tron is claimed to achieve a Cd value of 0.27.
Other aerodynamic solutions are hidden away from sight, such as the air suspension and the fully lined underbody with its aluminium plate to protect the high-voltage 95kWh battery.
On the inside, the e-tron offers space and comfort that is equivalent to one of the brand’s typical full-size models. With a wheelbase of 2,928 millimetres, it has space for five occupants as well as a total luggage capacity of 660 litres.
The e-tron is set to open for order in the UK in early 2019 whereupon it will take aim at the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC.