On Tuesday in San Francisco, and in the heart of “Tesla territory”, Audi introduced its first all-electric SUV, the e-tron, signalling the start of electrification of the German auto brand.
Audi put on a grand show, bringing in 850 Intel drones to form part of the “electrifying” light show as the audience crossed to Richmond’s famous Craneway Pavilion by boat, complimenting projectors which showered the pavilion in a flickering sea of lights and colors.
The e-tron had previously only been seen as a concept car in ‘camouflage’ stripes, but the launch had two of the electric SUVs, one in a bluebird shade and the other in a smooth pale grey.
In addition to a SUV body, Audi will also give the e-tron series classic body layouts – the Avant coupe and Sportback, and the portfolio will cover all market segments from compact to superclass.
According to Audi, the e-tron is expected to arrive in Australia in mid-2019, with pricing and specifications to be announced closer to launch.
Reservations are now officially open in US, with the “first edition” car to cost $US86,700 ($A120,000), and a “base” vehicle available from $US74,800 ($A103,000).
Board member and head of sales and marketing Bram Schot said at the launch that the e-tron has the ‘highest charging speed in competition’, and that for owners of the e-tron, range anxiety would be a thing of the past.
However, it seems that the European 22kW charger that makes that possible may not be available over here, where we will be able to charge the e-tron to 80% in 8.5hrs using a portable 11kW power pack.
Audi also announced that the range of the e-tron will be around 400km – somewhat less than the expected 500km or more – made possible by a battery array of 36 connected modules that the company says is the size of a double bed.
Sitting over the front axle is a 125kW motor, and over the back axle sits 140kW, making for 265kW power with 561Nm torque.
Inside and out, the similarity to the Audi Q8 is clearly visible – but with a serious difference: on request, the classic rear-view mirror can be replaced with ‘virtual mirrors’.
With the introduction of the e-tron series, the German luxury carmaker wants to expand its ambitious e-strategy, introducing a total of twelve models with pure electric drive by 2025.
The e-tron follows a fleet of European car manufacturers introducing electric vehicles – some of which still only exist as concepts – including Mercedes-Benz’s EQC, Aston Martin’s Rapide E, Volvo’s 360C and BMW’s Vision iNEXT.