First Look: 2019 Audi e-tron Quattro Audi"e;s first foray into the electric SUV segment is just the beginning
RICHMOND, Calif. — Before we begin with an overview of last night’s global reveal of the 2019 Audi e-tron Quattro production car, we’d be remiss in not acknowledging that tequila-popping, pot-smoking billionaire insomniac whose factory 50 miles down the Nimitz Freeway from here made this all-electric luxury vehicle possible.
For if not for those Tesla sedans and SUVs rolling off the Fremont factory floor, there is no chance Audi—for that matter any luxury automaker—would have invested the billions of Euros required to bring a production EV to market. True, the case can be made, and convincingly, that without Elon Musk’s groundbreaking company the EV revolution would have come eventually, but certainly not in 2018. Maybe not even in 2050.
Now, about that big reveal from last night on the San Francisco Bay waterfront.
The e-tron is an all-electric, all-wheel drive SUV comparable in size to the Audi Q5, has a full-charge range of 400 kilometres, a maximum towing capacity of 1,800 kilograms (4,000 lbs.) and is loaded with new technology, including a really cool virtual wing mirror that incorporates a camera and screen in place of the traditional side view mirror (unfortunately, only Europe-spec e-trons get this as North America safety regulations forbid such technology. I am told Audi lawyers are furiously lobbying to change that.)
That impressive range comes by way of a 95 kWh lithium-ion battery pack comprised of 432 cells arranged in 12-cell modules in a double bed-sized, 34-cm high structure located under the floor of the SUV. By way of comparison, the Tesla Model X’s battery packs range in size from 75 to 100 kWh, while the 2019 Jaguar i-Pace’s is 90 kWh. Like Jaguar, Audi chose to develop and build its own electric motors rather than buy them off the shelf. Part of that decision was based on keeping and taking the automaker’s legendary Quattro traction system into the electric age in house, and part was based on development for future products (more on that later).
Only time will tell if that ‘build-not-buy’ route was the correct decision, but judging from the specs released by Audi yesterday, their motors live up to the Audi badging. The front-mounted motor has an output of 125 kW with a 10 kW maximum boost potential, and the rear motor is rated at 140 kW and a 25 kW boost. That’s a combined power output of 265, or 300 at full boost, or in that old-school horsepower metric, 355 and 402 respectively. According to Audi that power spirits the five-seat SUV from a standstill to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds, 5.7 seconds in full boost mode. Incidentally, that’s not really a mode in the sense you need to paddle shift or press a button; rather, you simply mash the accelerator (not the ‘gas’ pedal, of course) with the drive mode in the ‘sport’ setting.
Audi has also set the charging bar high in its first all-electric production vehicle, allowing for a best-in-class 150 kW charge. Charge times range from 10 hours using the ‘Basic’ system (120v and 240v) 4.5 hours with the ‘Connect’ system (fast charger), and an impressive 30-minute charge up to 80 per cent of the battery life on a DC Charger (I say impressive as remember this is a very big battery pack). Audi has joined forces with public charging station provider Electrify America to expand its 150 kW and 350 kW network, and is offering U.S. e-tron owners free charging for a year after purchase. An Audi Canada representative said nothing is finalized for customers here yet, but said he wouldn’t be surprised if a similar deal was offered. Readers of driving.ca are well aware of the half-decade e-tron program—a search of the site prior to last night’s event found ‘e-tron’ references in no less than 108 stories—however seeing the vehicle in the flesh, especially flesh not speckled with so-called ‘camouflage’ paint, makes real all that hype-filled run-up. It’s a good looking SUV speaking the contemporary Audi design language, granted with a few stylistic flourishes inside and out, yet like the aforementioned i-Pace, it makes great efforts to stray not far from Audi DNA, particularly in the cabin.
Last night’s reveal is just the start of Audi’s headlong charge into electrification. At the L.A. Auto Show in November the automaker will unveil the all-electric GT Concept, the production version of which is planned to hit showrooms in 2020. There’s also a two-door sportback in the works along with a compact, each slate for sale by 2020. Move ahead half a decade, and Audi says it will have 10 full EVs in its model lineup. Full Review https://driving.ca/audi/auto-news/news/first-look-2019-audi-e-tron-quattro