Audi has confirmed its e-tron electric SUV concept will debut as a production ready car in early 2018, with a fully-electric powertrain and 310-mile range. It’ll look almost identical to the car previewed at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and is likely to slot in between the all-new Q5 and recently-updated Q7.
Sitting beside the e-tron at Audi’s Future Performance Day workshop this week, Dr Rudiger Chmielewski, head of total vehicle development told Auto Express that they’d undergone several design clinics in Germany and the USA, and were close to finalising the SUV’s shape.
“We have found the right height”, said Dr Chmielewski. “You will find this in the exterior. You’ll also find the headlight pattern in all our electric cars.”
Audi debuted new Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) lighting technology on the concept. The lights are continuously variable and require no reflectors or guides.
“The flush door handles will feature, too”, he said. “A lot of heart went into these. We hope we can use them with rear view cameras.” This would of course, require a lengthy development process and likely new EU and global legislation.
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While the Q6 name hasn’t been confirmed, the sleek profile and chiselled styling show the electric SUV’s positioning as a rival for the Tesla Model X, as well as conventionally-fuelled rivals such as the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe. Audi claims that the sporty appearance and sealed underbody offer a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.25cd.
“This is an electric car suitable for the long haul. It’ll have a 500km (310-mile) range, and is tangible proof of our commitment to electric mobility,” said Dr Chmielewski.
Audi bosses claim the production version will be “sexy”, “packed with utility” and “sporty.” They also confirmed its debut will coincide with big developments in the charging infrastructure.
Dr Chmielewski said: “By the time we launch the e-tron, we will have a fast charge network in Germany. An 80 per cent charge will take 30 minutes. The success of a model like this will depend on the infrastructure.” He also confirmed the company was working on wireless induction charging for installation at owners’ homes.
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Speaking from the Shanghai Motor Show earlier this year, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler pointed to China as an example of sweeping changes to the charging infrastructure.
“What we are seeing in China at the moment is there are some government decisions that will put superchargers every 50km on 16,000 to 17,000km of highways,” he said. “If this happens and this will happen then it could be an accelerator and create some good momentum. Hopefully the Europeans will follow.
“Now with our engineers and our battery-cell suppliers we are at a stage where we can say, yes, this is feasible and we believe that with the ongoing investments in terms of infrastructure development we think that 2018-2019 is the right time to come up with such a car. It will look nice, it will have sufficient range and we think the infrastructure will be sufficient in terms of supercharging.”
Sitting above the Q6 and the Q7 in the range, Stadler also confirmed a range-topping Q8 is in development: “Yes there will be something above [the Q7] and it will be more expensive than the Q7.” When we used the new £150,000 Range Rover SVAutobigraphy as a benchmark for how upmarket the Q8 could go, he said it will “easily” take the fight to that car.
Not all his plans involve SUVs, though. As showcased by swooping roofline of the Prologue Allroad concept in Shanghai, a CLS Shooting Brake rival could be on the cards. “Normally concept cars are an exaggeration, but nevertheless you want to get feedback and a taste for whether this type of car is on people’s buying lists or not. Why shouldn’t the station wagon not get more sporty? So let’s wait and see, it was a very good exercise.”
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