The Audi e-tron is the first fully electrically powered series production model from the brand with the four rings. The company will present its sporty full-size SUV – which is suitable for everyday use – to the world for the first time in San Francisco.
The Audi e-tron is an electric SUV for sport, family and leisure. It is 4901 millimetres long, 1935 millimetres wide and 1616 millimetres high and offers the spaciousness and comfort of one of the brand’s typical full-size models. With a wheelbase of 2928 millimetres, the Audi e-tron has ample space for five occupants and total luggage capacity of 660 litres.
Powerful performance on any terrain: drive and dynamic handling system
Efficiency, performance and quiet tranquility – the Audi e-tron exemplifies the driving experience of a new era. Two powerful electric motors silently drive the electric SUV, free of emissions with a system output of up to 300kW and 664Nm of torque. The maximum drive torque is available within fractions of a second and provides enormous pulling power, the Audi e-tron accelerating from 0 to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds with an electronically governed top speed of 200km/h.
A new quattro generation – the electric all-wheel drive – provides for superlative traction and handling on any terrain and in any weather conditions. It ensures the continuous and fully variable regulation of the ideal distribution of drive torque between the two axles – within a fraction of a second. In most cases, the electric SUV uses its rear electric motor in order to achieve the highest efficiency, but should the driver need more power than it can supply, the electric all-wheel drive redistributes torque as required to the front axle. This also happens predictively even before slip occurs in icy conditions, fast cornering, or if the car understeers or oversteers.
A key factor for the sporty character and outstanding dynamics is the low and central installation of the drive components. The battery system is optimally matched to the dimensions of the Audi e-tron and is located between the axles in the form of a flat, broad block beneath the passenger compartment. That makes the Audi e-tron’s centre of gravity similar to that of a sedan, with axle load distribution perfectly balanced at almost 50:50.
With Audi drive select, the driver can vary the characteristics of the Audi e-tron between seven profiles depending on the driving situation, road conditions or personal preferences. The system also influences the standard air suspension with adaptive dampers and as a result, there is a vast difference between smooth rolling comfort and sporty, stable handling. The pneumatic springs adjust individually to the road conditions depending on the speed and the driver’s preferences, varying the ride height by as much as 76 millimetres. Especially on long journeys, a lower ride height improves aerodynamics and increases the range.
High efficiency: recuperation, aerodynamics and thermal management
The Audi e-tron can cover more than 400 kilometres on a single charge in the WLTP test cycle. This is due primarily to the innovative recuperation system, which is responsible for up to 30 percent of the range. The electric SUV can recover energy 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. In both cases, the electric motors function as a generator and convert the kinetic energy of the Audi e-tron into electric energy. At up to 0.3 g of deceleration, the electric SUV recuperates solely via the electric motors, which is the case well over 90 percent of the time.
The wheel brakes do not come into play until the driver uses the brake pedal to decelerate with more than 0.3 g, and then they react extremely quickly thanks to a new electrohydraulic actuation concept. Audi is the first carmaker worldwide to employ this in an electric-powered series-production model. When braking from 100km/h, for example, the Audi e-tron can recuperate electric power with a maximum of 300Nm and 220kW, which corresponds to more than 70 percent of its operating energy input – greater than any other series production model. The electrohydraulically integrated brake control system decides as a function of the driving situation whether the e-tron uses the electric motor, wheel brake or a combination of the two for recuperation – with this taking place individually at each axle. The transition between electric and hydraulic braking is so smooth the driver does not even notice it.
Another key factor for the high efficiency of the Audi e-tron is the sophisticated aerodynamics. One highlight of this concept are the optional virtual exterior mirrors – a worldwide first in a series production model. Integrated into each of the mirror supports is a small camera, whose images are displayed on high-contrast OLED displays inside the vehicle. Other aerodynamic solutions are hidden from sight, such as the air suspension and the fully lined underbody with the aluminium plate to protect the high-voltage battery. These reduce drag, as does the adjustable cooling air intake. It includes channels for cooling the front brakes and serves as a switching point for the complex thermal management system with the standard heat pump. Benefits of the thermal management system include unwavering high performance even under high load, long battery life and fast DC recharging.
When equipped with the virtual exterior mirrors, the Audi e-tron achieves a Cd value of 0.27, which is a top result in the SUV segment. With a typical use profile, that drag coefficient provides for a range advantage of approximately 40 kilometres per battery charge versus a comparable, conventionally powered vehicle.
Intelligent solutions for home and on the move: the charging concepts
The Audi e-tron is the first series-production vehicle that can charge at fast charging stations with direct current (DC) at up to 150kW. This means that the car is all set for the next long-distance stretch of a journey in approximately half an hour. It can also be recharged with alternating current (AC) at up to 11kW; recharging with 22kW is available as an option. A proprietary Audi charging service provides e-tron customers with easy access to roughly 80 percent of the public charging stations in Europe. Whether it’s AC or DC, 11kW or 150kW – a single card is all customers need to start the process. The procedure will become even more convenient with the function Plug & Charge, which will follow in 2019: The car self-authorises at the charging station and activates it.
Audi offers various solutions for charging at home. The standard mobile charging system can be used with either a 230 volt household outlet or a 400 volt three-phase outlet. The optional ‘connect’ charging system doubles the charging power to up to 22kW. Combined with a home energy management system, it offers intelligent functions such as charging when electricity is less expensive or with solar electricity if the home is equipped with a photovoltaic system. Audi customers can control all charging processes as well as pre-heating/pre-cooling via their smartphone with the myAudi app.
Electrification visualised: exterior and interior
The Audi e-tron reflects the Audi design language, translated into the electric age with new distinctive details. Typically for one of the brand’s SUV models, the Audi e-tron bears the octagonal-design Singleframe grille with vertical struts, largely enclosed and presented in platinum grey, identifying it as a fully electric model. At the lower edge of the Matrix LED headlights, four horizontal struts create the e-tron-specific signature in the daytime running lights. For the first time this is integrated directly into the headlights. The expressive design of the sill area with the black inserts visualises the location of the battery and thus the energy centre of the Audi e-tron. At the rear, slats in the wide diffuser call attention to the absence of exhaust pipes. The e-tron logo on the charging flap and optionally the brake calipers stand out in the high-voltage signal colour orange.
Colourful accents are also available for the spacious, airy interior, whose design embodies performance, intelligence and lightness. The large arc which houses the optional virtual exterior mirrors, stretches across the expansive instrument panel to the sculptured door trims, taking in-car digitalisation to a whole new level. The centre tunnel console rests on open sidewalls, with the hand rest and integrated shifter positioned above it, allowing the driver to operate it with thumb and forefinger.
The entire driver’s area has a driver bias, and the two large MMI touch screens are angled in the driver’s direction, replacing nearly every conventional switch and control. Many functions can also be controlled via the natural voice control system and with the standard Audi virtual cockpit, the driver can choose between two views that clearly present all information in the form of sharp, high-resolution graphics. The optional Audi virtual cockpit plus offers a third screen that highlights the electric drive system.
Top-calibre connectivity: infotainment and assist systems
In the German market, the Audi e-tron comes standard with the high-end media centre MMI navigation plus, including LTE Advanced and Wi-Fi hotspot. The navigation system makes intelligent destination suggestions based on previous routes, ideally supplemented by the e-tron route planner. This displays the suitable route with the required charging points. The navigation system considers not only the battery’s charge but also the traffic situation and includes the required charging time in its arrival time calculation.
Numerous assist systems make the drive even more relaxing, including the standard efficiency assist. With predictive tips in the Audi virtual cockpit and automatic recuperation, it helps the driver to drive economically. The system uses radar sensors, camera images, navigation data and Car-to-X information to detect the traffic environment and the route. In combination with the adaptive cruise assist, the efficiency assist can also brake and accelerate the Audi e-tron predictively. Backing the assist systems is the central driver assistance controller, which continuously computes an exact model of the environment. The required data is obtained – depending on the selected options – from up to five radar sensors, six cameras, 12 ultrasound sensors and the laser scanner.
The Audi e-tron will be the brand’s first model to allow customers to add certain functions online whenever the need for them arises. This will be possible from mid-2019 onwards. For example, the LED headlights can be upgraded to matrix LED headlights with intelligently controlled high beams, and assist systems or infotainment extras such as DAB+ digital radio and the Audi smartphone interface can be added.
Initial deliveries: end of 2018
The Audi e-tron rolls off the assembly line at the CO2-neutral plant in Brussels, with initial deliveries to European customers planned for late 2018. The Audi e-tron is expected to arrive in Australia in mid-2019. Pricing and specification will be announced closer to launch.