Electric quattro

All-electric drive and quattro – the perfect combination.

More than 40 years after stamping its authority on world motorsport, quattro continues to define traction and handling for the brand in its growing fleet of all-electric vehicles.

25 October, 2021

Since its original development, Audi has continued to refine and improve its quattro system

Since it revolutionised motorsport in the ’80s, Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system has become an integral part of the brand as well as becoming part of the automotive lexicon. The surefooted feel and superior handling characteristics of all-wheel drive give Audi quattro models an undisputed traction and safety advantage in all manner of conditions, and its contribution to handling and performance are well documented.

Since its original development, Audi has continued to refine and improve its quattro system, form dealing with higher and higher power outputs of the new Audi models, to quattro with ultra technology for greater fuel efficiency and now with the electric age well and truly upon us, quattro has been further refined to suit the growing stable of Audi electric vehicles.

The Audi quattro system transitions perfectly to the all-electric drivetrain, in fact, the Audi quattro system reaches new levels of efficiency in its all-electric guise.

The electric all-wheel drive or e-quattro combines the efficiency of a single-axle drive with the driving dynamics and traction of an all-wheel drive and ensures the continuous and fully variable regulation of the perfect torque distribution between the two axles. It takes as little as 30 milliseconds from the system detecting the driving situation and the torque from the electric motors kicking in – much faster than with conventional quattro technology. The reason is that the e-quattro is not reliant on a mechanical clutch to engage, but rather it operates by redistributing electricity, which of course takes just a fraction of a second. 

So even with sudden changes in the conditions and traction or the type of driving, the full quattro performance is guaranteed, as maximum drive torque is directed to the wheels or wheel with the most traction.

Demonstrating the superior grip of e-quattro.

In most cases, the Audi e-tron tends to use its rear electric motor to achieve the highest efficiency, and for that reason, the drive torque is generally distributed with a rear-axle bias. If the driver demands more power than the rear electric motor 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 or when cornering fast, or if the car understeers or oversteers. In conjunction with the wheel-selective torque control, the electric all-wheel drive offers high traction in different weather conditions and on different types of terrain.

The same principle applies with the Audi e-tron S models which use three electric motors instead of the two operating on other Audi e-tron models – the first series production electric vehicles to do so. With two motors on the rear axle and the third on the front, the e-tron S models likewise use its rear motors for greatest efficiency, calling on the third as required.

Likewise, both the e-tron GT quattro and the RS e-tron GT with their twin electric motors operate with e-quattro, but drivers can prioritise front-wheel drive by selecting the ‘efficiency’ model in the Audi drive select system when conditions warrant. But even when operating in this mode to conserve power, the system is constantly monitoring the conditions and ready to activate aquattro the split second it is required. In the event of any slip, or sudden hard acceleration or fast cornering, the electric motor for rear-wheel drive is also activated faster than you can blink – around five times faster than with a mechanical quattro drivetrain. The electric all-wheel drive regulates the drive torque distribution between the axles – continuously, fully variably, and within thousandths of a second. With the proliferation of Audi e-mobility, the system that changed motorsport and the way cars handle in all conditions – Audi quattro – continues to fascinate and deliver the goods more than four decades on.

The electric motor for rear-wheel drive is also activated faster than you can blink – around five times faster than with a mechanical quattro drivetrain

What started by rewriting world rally in the 1980s...
...will take on the Dakar Rally in 2022 in the RS Q e-tron.