Audi gave their customers and fans as well as electric car buffs, something they can all get excited about, as Audi finally launches their BEV e-Tron to enter the electric car market, and to take on Tesla. In a reveal recently in San Francisco with much fanfare and high tech glitz as if it were a ribbon cutting, Audi says it will start e-Tron sales with one edition of the car. Some time in the second quarter 2019 is when the roll out of deliveries will see an “Edition One” versión for $86,700 USD, and then the base version will follow later at $74,800, that you’ll be able to load it with options to the hilt at $81,800:
About the Car:
The Audi e-Tron Quattro is five seat, four door battery electric “sporty full sized SUV suitable for everyday use.”
Three trims: Premium Plus (base), Prestige (range topper), and Edition One (limited production):
- Base Premium Plus standard equipment: $74,800 USD; 20” all season tires, 12 way power front seats heated cooled, inductive wireless charging, panoramic sunroof, Audi Side Assist with cross traffic alert, air suspension. I’m sure it’s safe to say full power, tilt, cruise, A/C, ABS, SRS, ESC.
- Prestige trim: $7,000 more; individual contour seats with massage function, heads-up display, driver’s assistance tech package,
- Edition One: First 999 units in US market only. 21 inch wheels, a special gray paint, bright orange calipers, black leather interior, night vision camera in the dash.
- Options include: Audi Driver’s Assistance Package, massage seats, heads-up display, power door closers, and other high tech features. In Europe: Virtual side view mirror cameras.
- Now officially offered for sale as they are now taking reservations for delivery later in 2018 for Europe, 2Q 2019 for North America.
- All electric all wheel drive Quattro system, new, and a first.
- Like the gas version e-Quattro regulates “the ideal distribution of torque drives between the two axles-within a fraction of a second.”
- Dual AC induction motors on top/in between the wheels of each axle.
- 300 kW total power, rear: 165 kW with an extra 25 kW reserved for Boost Mode, front: 135 kW with 10 kW reserved for Boost Mode. Designed for AC and DC charging.
- The car is designed to drive at high speeds on the autobahn for prolonged periods of time, including fast charging intervals, without excessive heat strain on the batteries.
- To protect the batteries you do this in “Boost Mode.” You can do this mode as many times as you want! But you can’t without it!
- 95 kW battery pack with 36 modules of lithium-ion pouch cells weight: 1,541 lbs.
- E-Tron has the second largest battery pack of any electric regular production model, save for the Tesla Model X 100D.
- Placed on a high tech collision defusing and protected battery skate board tray designed to protect the power pack in a collision, particularly a side impact.
- All this, at the bottom of the car in a tray that is now becoming an industry standard. The batteries are double stacked towards the rear motor.
- The tray’s low center of gravity “gives the vehicle a range that is suitable for driving long distances.”
- Water cooled battery thermal management system: transfers heat from the bottom of the pack using a gel that surrounds each of the 36 modules.
- Fast Charging: 150 kW 80% in 30 minutes, a selling point. Tesla’s network is 120 kW.
- 2 different mobile charger options:
- “Connect” option allows smart capabilities like time of use charging, and ability to charge with solar power with a smart solar inverter if the facility is solar array equipped.
- And there’s an Audi Level 2 Home Charger.
- Audi hooked up with Amazon’s Home Services division to handle your home charger installation. No pricing was made.
- VW Group vehicles are members of IONITY network and soon Dieselgate punitive Electrify America Fast Charger Network with 1,000 free kWh of super charging, complements of Audi, starting July 2019.
- 198.3” Long, 76.3” wide, 65.5” high.
- 28.5 cu ft of space in hatch, 57 cu ft space seats down.
- 0-60 in 6 regular, 5.5 in Boost Mode. A tiny bit on the slow side in this segment but still quite rapid!
- Top Speed 124 mph. Not Hell Cat competitive, but it is a giant SUV with a 1400 lbs battery pack.
- Virtual side mirror camera equipped, Audi’s first model to be equipped and industry first, for European models as an option, N/A in USA pending regulation/legislation.
- For infotainment/onboard data they use the flagship A8 setup re-purposed for electric car data. Three screens: Driver’s behind wheel, two stacked screens to the right in middle.
- Driver’s: customizable layout 720p display, cluster info: speed, battery level, navigation, etc.
- Top screen: 10.1” Infotainment, Amazon Alexa equipped. E-tron route planner optimized for recharging points, MMI navigation, LTE Advanced, Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Bottom screen: 8.6” climate and comfort settings.
- Integrated electro hydraulic brake control system for regen braking, industry first. Smart on the fly combination of regenerative ad mechanical braking.
- Smart Adaptive Cruise Control specifically purposed for electric driving. The predictive “efficiency assist” system gives a little sampling of autonomy, but not too much, with things like acceleration and braking.
- Designed to be as aerodynamic as possible for an SUV, including use of optional side virtual camera mirrors to reduce drag, increase range.
- The car’s final assembly plant is in Brussels, 200 units per day.
e-Tron is Finally Here:
Five years is a long time in any universe, but certainly not in the electric car one, as it seemed to take forever for Audi to finally get to this day in which they unveiled their new 2019 Audi e-Tron Quattro battery electric SUV. Although Audi spent most of the 2000’s tinkering with the e-Tron range brand with different concepts in hybrid form, some concepts, some actual production cars, their original BEV concept for this moniker was a fastback coupe. But conception for this particular production vehicle we now see here probably started sometime after Tesla turned their limited production eyesights from Roadster I to full production Model S back in 2012 to actually see what Tesla was capable of producing in a full production electric vehicle, where they were going with it, and if the legacy car makers didn’t pay any attention, how some of them could go out of business by not adapting to electric vehicles. Model S was a wake up call. Model X was a “and smell the coffee.” Audi woke up thankfully. And here is e-Tron SUV.
Unless I’m mistaken, as far as I can remember, I believe this is the first commercial for an electric car I’ve ever seen, and nicely done:
You can tell that the Audi folks are very proud of their product, and judging from the press kit, the videos I posted here from Audi including the TV commercial a few lines above this, and the photos of the car, they have every reason and right to be. While all the other car companies shamefully hide their electric cars from advertisement, Audi flaunts theirs, even before it goes on sale. As I watched this video I’m realizing I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TV ad for an electric car before, as I do pay close attention to car commercials. I have to.
Like all the German brands, Audi is very conservative in their exterior styling and this car sticks to the Audi design language as another addition to its model range. Some criticize this as the “same sausage in different sizes,” but anyone who says that hasn’t enjoyed driving a German car to understand that each model has a uniqueness that gives its contribution to the brand’s driving philosophy, although it may not always be successfully executed. Regardless, it’s the German car makers who’ve taught us all about what being a brand is. There’s a reason why they number their cars in configurations, series, or classes, that they rarely give their car models proper names. It’s about the brand, not any particular car, even for the flagship or halo, that the brand stands in front before anything else, and in a luxury market, that’s what brings them back to buy another. One of the reasons why an apprehensive e-Tron buyer will go ahead and buy this SUV in spite of their BEV issues, is that this is an Audi, and if they are already an Audi customer, they’re going to take faith in Audi that in spite of its electricalness, it’s still an Audi and they expect it to behave like one. Looking like one certainly helps both the brand and e-Tron.
There are a few highlights, accents, trims, and giveaways to clue you to this being something a little different being a BEV, but you could take a family portrait of the entire Audi range and e-Tron could proudly sit next to her gas sister the Q7 to bear a family resemblance to them all. Nicely executed. Welcome to the family. We’ve been waiting for you. What took you so long? Glad you made it anyway.
Very much like what BMW did with their recent unveil of their autonomous car they intend to put into production, both brands decided to stick to what they know, and that’s making Audi’s and BMW’s that basically look that way, whether they’re gas, electric, autonomous, or the last two combined. I’ll let you argue if the grilles are too large or the taillights are too much, etc., but in a CAD era where cars basically all look and are shaped the same, it’s important to make distinctions. Maybe this is why that BMW grille that was so tiny for decades grew from the size of an appendectomy to open heart surgery, even an autopsy. The branding still has to stick out somehow. I’m relieved and grateful Audi didn’t create another electric pod that doubles as a space ship that can orbit the moon at full charge.
Audi engineers explain the exterior design:
What is important to know about the exterior is that Audi went through it painstakingly to ensure optimal coefficient drag and peak aerodynamics were executed as the sleekest car makes for the most electric range. And with a 1400 pound battery pack sitting under the floor in a large SUV every rounded edge counts! You can see this in the profile with the rear roof line as the overhead louvre adds a visual effect that the car is going fast even when it’s still. That louvre helps with wind drag that makes these SUVs like Woolly Mammoths. Replacing the traditional outside side view mirrors with virtual side mirror cameras also helps with efficiency, another tech first in the industry from Audi, and another one of those features 10-20 years from now will probably be standard in all cars including your Toyota, but I’ll get to that new feature down below.
Speaking of sticking to what you know, Audi also did the same thing with the interior, particularly the dash and instrumentation. Unlike what BMW did to the autonomous iNext by following lock and step with Tesla using design minimalism to have a wheel and two screens that make up the dash, Audi went the way with her Porsche cousins with Taycan, and also went traditional with the dashboard. Although not as conservative as Porsche to the extent of even preselecting the dial instrumentation, Audi makes what looks like a dash we’re accustomed to, all kinds of buttons in the steering wheel, and fits in three screens to display or process the appropriate information. The driver gets one of them behind the wheel, and it’s customizable.
Here’s the interior of the e-Tron:
Other than that, it looks like standard Audi inside, probably another execution of one of the best car interiors Audi is known for. What disappoints me however, and this will for many families as this was an issue with the Lexus RX for years that families looked elsewhere in their SUV shopping for third row seating until the RX went third row finally, is that the five passenger e-Tron doesn’t have a third row as you’d expect for a full-sized SUV. Audi needs to explain that. The seven occupant Q7 is only a half inch longer, 3” higher, and 1”wider. Now those are exterior dimensions, if I had to guess why no third row, my guess would be battery placement, but that’s guessing. Maybe we’ll find out, and if I do I’ll let you know. If they can squeeze a third row into a Hyundai Santa Fe nicely, or a Suzuki Grand Vitara or XL7, I’m sure Audi can work some German engineering magic on a big e-Tron.
This whole car is a rolling piece of the latest technology, from the predictive “efficiency assist” system of the adaptive cruise control that anticipates your move ahead of you to help you with driving actions like, whether to accelerate or brake when and where appropriate, to the integrated electro hydraulic brake control system that’s a clever combination of both mechanical and regenerative braking tat reverses the electric motor to capture lost energy when braking, for optimal energy recovery. But there are two pieces of tech I want to address: the battery tray and the virtual side mirrors.
I’m a big safety feature buff, so a noteworthy tech is that bunkered down battery tray. It seems Audi built a high tech mini fortress around the tray to minimize impact on the tray from a collision, particularly a side impact, where the tray probably is at most peril. By absorption and diffusion, the tray is designed to hold its own. If they use steel to encase the tray which I’m not sure they do here, but they do on Teslas, and if so here, this too could make a perfect security vehicle with ballistic protection. A steel encased battery tray gives you a nice barrier to a land mine or a road bomb.
If Audi has its way, which it already has in Europe, they will become the first car company to incorporate virtual side view mirror cameras into their production vehicles. Now, this technology has been in some kind of existence for decades, as we’ve all seen prototypes and concept cars over the years have them, for us all to know that feature will never make it into production that it never does. I remember for years Cadillac would put them into their concept cars for both the cars and the cameras to never make it to production. As current laws stand in both China and the US, they are illegal and Audi has already set apparatus in place in both countries to change that.
This is Audi e-Tron’s virtual side mirrors:
Virtual side mirror cameras are a feature on e-Tron’s European version. It is available as an option there, and Audi wants to make it available as an option here and in China. It’s a cool and nifty feature to have, but I’m not quite sure what the benefit is to having it, especially under the current technology given to it. Customers have said in feedback that it requires a major adjustment of getting used to. Because the screens which are located on the forward part of each front door in the same locale where you expect the traditional mirrors to be, are one dimensional, there is no depth of field perception. It makes it even harder to judge distance. If that’s the case, then what’s probably required is that the screen adapts some kind of 3D technology, which they don’t apparently have yet.
But this is the first time I’ve seen this technology used in the way that closely mimics a real glass mirror that I’ve never seen before. Over the years I’ve seen the inside screens for the cameras placed all over the dash, that Audi situates them in the forward corner of each door where you’d originally expect the side mirrors to be. They look and act like side mirrors and are easy to adjust. The difference is that they take blind spot detection, proximity warning, and collision avoidance to the next level by making those features more interactive with the screens during the driving experience. But you still need screens to back up and pass people, and if you can’t judge distance that well, then what’s the point?
Another setback to this feature is this: I know it costs a lot of damn money to replace those damn traditional mirrors on the side of these cars as it is. I can only imagine how much a regular Audi mirror costs. They’re now looking to replace the mirrors with these high tech tiny swivel cameras that lord only knows if either of them get side clipped how much they’ll cost to replace.
Audi’s theme for the launch is “the end of the beginning.” I’m not sure what they mean by that, but if it is in reference in anyway to Tesla cornering the electric car market, obviously those days are over, and this vehicle has the potential of securing its place in it with some kind of dominance. It may not be the fastest or the sexiest of the segment, but if you want an electric wagon that hauls things in the back from the supermarket or the garden nursery, takes the kids to school, takes you and your partner to the opera in style, then this car is for you. I look forward to reviewing it one day. Let’s just hope it’s as good as it looks. The Audi e-tron Quattro SUV electric. Order now.
Audi e-Tron: The End of the Beginning:
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