Electric Shanghai

Audi has unveiled the next chapter in its e-volution at Auto Shanghai 2021.

It’s an Audi A6 for the future – an all electric, large bodied Sportback, with its own unique e-tron styling and a range of over 700 kilometres – introducing the Audi A6 e-tron concept.

19 April, 2021

A large, luxury four-door saloon, it takes the famed Audi A6 name and completely reimagines it for the electric age

Anyone who doubted Audi’s commitment to introduce up to 30 new electric and hybrid models by 2025 might want to reconsider their opinion as the brand takes the covers off another exciting new model at Auto Shanghai 2021. The Audi A6 e-tron concept, as the name suggests, is a concept design study, but those familiar with the Audi brand will know that when Audi produces a concept vehicle it is invariably a precursor to a series model and not an exercise in ‘maybe’.

The Audi A6 e-tron concept represents a tantalising look at the styling and technology of future Audi models using the Premium Platform Electric (PPE), a modular system that will facilitate the brand’s electric expansion plans. This platform is being developed by Audi in partnership with Porsche AG and the first Audi production vehicles built using the PPE will start being unveiled in the second half of next year.

Because the battery size and wheelbase of PPE vehicles are scalable, they are suitable for use in different market segments and will allow Audi to expand the number of electric vehicles right across its range. Also, given the economies of scale created by the use of this platform will allow technology from the brand’s larger luxury models to be incorporated into a wide-range of models across the board.

The A6 e-tron concept demonstrates just what is possible using this PPE platform. A large, luxury four-door saloon, it takes the famed Audi A6 name and completely reimagines it for the electric age. In truth, it bears little in common with its hugely successful namesake, the Audi A6, except in its dimensions. Although the A6 has itself undergone numerous changes since it first appeared in 1968 as the Audi 100, this futuristic design concept is a complete departure from anything ever seen in the Audi A6 ranks before. Measuring 4.96 metres long, nearly two metres wide (1.96m) and 1.44 metres high, the A6 e-tron concept is every inch the large luxury tourer, and with a range of over 700km and fast charging of up to 270kW, it represents yet another giant leap forward in terms of day to day functionality for Audi’s Audi models.

The Sportback styling on the A6 e-tron is at once familiar and yet its use creates a completely different look and feel for this vehicle. Extensive wind tunnel development was used to arrive at the final shape which is not only striking but of course is designed to maximise vehicle range. It’s aerodynamic figure with a CD of 0.22 is the best in the electrified C segment and the resultant body shape is captivating yet suitably subtle – true to the Audi design ethos.

Plenty of design cues are there for those familiar with Audi architecture, from the Singleframe grille which now has its own distinctive design characteristics that identify this model as all-electric, to a new generation of lighting that builds on the band’s impressive history in this area. The ‘quattro blisters’ – the swelled guards over the high 22-inch wheels – highlight the sporty nature of the car and are in keeping with the design language across the brand, while the sculpted battery area above the rocker panel which is highlighted in black accentuates the low centre of gravity and is also an indicator that this is one of the brand’s electric offerings.

The aforementioned lights represents another giant advancement, with the slim, flat Digital Matrix LED headlights and Digital OLED taillights designed to fit with the svelte lines of the A6 e-tron as well as offering up a host of futuristic new features.

In addition, small high-resolution LED projectors are built into each side of the body and can project messages of greeting to occupants as they open the door or project a warning onto the road surface to alert cyclists that the door is about to be opened. Projectors are also employed to generate the indicator signal onto the road surface to assist pedestrians as an added safety feature.

The A6 e-tron concept demonstrates just what is possible using this PPE platform and gives an idea of future models

The A6 e-tron concept is driven by two electric motors delivering a total output of 350kW of power and a massive 800Nm of torque

The rear end of the concept car features a new generation of digital OLED elements that, as a continuous strip of lights, act like a display integrated into the black panel on the rear of the car. They can also be used to create almost unlimited customisable variations of digital light signatures and dynamic lighting displays that can be adapted to the customer’s personal taste. 

Then there are the Digital Matrix LED headlights themselves which are simply next level. They offer not only the ability for the driver to personalise the daytime running light signature, but also allow the occupants to project games onto a nearby flat surface – say a wall or garage door – and play a video game, perhaps while taking a break to recharge the car’s battery. The possibilities are seemingly endless both for improved safety and recreation but also for inroad communication with other road users. 

Even the paint on the concept vehicle has very ‘special’ qualities and has been developed especially for the A6 e-tron. Called Heliosilver, the colour is not only perfect for showing off the contours of the A6 e-tron but actually reduce the vehicle’s energy consumption. This is due to its reflective properties which effectively repel a significant percentage of the thermal radiation in sunlight and reduce the amount of energy that enters the car’s body and more importantly, its interior. The obvious benefit of this is that air-conditioning is not always needed to maintain a comfortable interior temperature even on hot days, and as air-conditioning is one of the main peripheral drains on the car’s power supply, this benefits the vehicle’s range and reduces its CO2 output. 

Just as advanced is the A6 e-tron’s drive concept which sees two electric motors delivering a total output of 350kW of power and a massive 800Nm of torque. 

The front wheels of the Audi A6 e-tron concept are connected via a five-link axle which has been specially optimised for electric vehicles, with a multi-link axle in the rear and of course Audi air suspension with adaptive dampers. 

Like the Audi e-tron GT unveiled earlier this year, the A6 e-tron concept uses 800-volt charging technology which ensures that its battery can be quickly charged with up to 270 kW at fast-charging stations. This equates to around 10 minutes to charge the battery for up to 300 kilometres range and less than 25 minutes to charge the 100kWh battery from five to 80 percent of capacity. This revolutionary technology will also enter the high-volume mid-range and luxury segments for the first time with the PPE.

With a full charge, the A5 e-tron will be capable of more than 700 kilometres of range, and even entry level variants will see off the 0 to 100km/h sprint in less than seven seconds. Step up to the top specced models and that figure will tumble to sub four seconds. 

Add to the impressive range and performance a platform that provides superior interior room for occupants and luggage – thanks largely to the absence of the transmission tunnel and the long wheelbase – and the A6 e-tron concept looks perfectly placed to write the next chapter not only for the hugely successful A6 model line, but for the brand itself.

Given the stunning design of the A6 e-tron concept unveiled today and the flexibility of the PPE platform, future Audi electric models promise an exciting new age for the Audi brand. Given that the PPE is the first platform that can be used for vehicles with a high ground clearance as well as cars with a low ride height, the possibilities are as exciting as they are endless.

Its 100kWh battery takes just 10 minutes to charge for up to 300 kilometres range and less than 25 minutes to charge from five to 80 percent of capacity