Electrifying the senses
Dawning of a new era – Audi unveils its first fully electric, series production vehicle - the Audi e-tron.
18 September, 2018
The wait is over – the first fully electric, series production model from Audi – the Audi e-tron – has been unveiled.
Streamed live from San Francisco, the unveiling of this groundbreaking new model signals the beginning of a whole new era for a company that has continually pushed boundaries throughout its long and rich history.
Audi is recognised for being at the very forefront of electronic mobility, and the arrival of the Audi e-tron demonstrates how the brand has overcome the obstacles to practical e-mobility – namely useable range and easy of recharging – while of course producing a vehicle that exhibits the luxurious attributes and performance expected of the Audi brand.
For months now we’ve been teased by the heavily camouflaged e-tron prototype, but now the face of the future is here for all to see. Of course there is the octagonal-design Singleframe grille with vertical struts, largely enclosed and finished in platinum grey to identify it as a fully electric model. At the lower edge of the Matrix LED headlights, four horizontal struts create the e-tron-specific signature in the daytime running lights. For the first time this is integrated directly into the headlights. At the rear, the absence of any exhaust pipes is further accentuated by slats in the wide diffuser and the e-tron logo on the charging flap and optionally on the brake calipers in orange are further ‘all-electric’ identifiers.
The Audi e-tron can cover more than 400 kilometres on a single charge (WLTP test cycle) thanks to its powerful electric motor. Completely emission-free, it generates up to 300kW and 664Nm of torque, which, in practical terms translates to a sprint from 0 to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds on the way to an electronically governed top speed of 200km/h.
Completely emission-free, the e-tron's motor generates up to 300kW and 664Nm of torque, which, in practical terms translates to a sprint from 0 to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds
Power goes to the ground through the new generation of quattro – electric all-wheel drive – which delivers superb traction and handling characteristics in all conditions
Power goes to the ground through the new generation of quattro – electric all-wheel drive – which delivers superb traction and handling characteristics in all conditions as it continuously monitors and delivers the best distribution of torque between the two axles. This process is seamless and instantaneous, with the rear motor employed for the bulk of driving for maximum efficiency, but with torque redistributed to the front axle as required, as soon as the system detects slip. In fact, the quattro system is so advanced that it operates predictively, sending drive to the axle and wheels or wheels with the most traction based on conditions and driving style – giving it a surefooted feel and supreme handling characteristics in even the slipperiest conditions.
These handling characteristics are further enhanced by the low, central placement of the battery system, which sits between the axles in the form of a flat, broad block beneath the passenger compartment and gives the Audi e-tron an axle load distribution perfectly balanced at almost 50:50.
Add to the equation the Audi drive select which offers seven different driving profiles depending on the conditions or personal preferences and standard air suspension with adaptive dampers, and the driving characteristics are even more compelling. Indeed, the pneumatic springs adjust individually to the road conditions depending on the speed and the driver’s preferences, varying the ride height by as much as 76 millimetres – further improving aerodynamics and vehicle range on long trips.
But none of this performance or handling comes at a cost to accommodation, storage or appointment. At 4901mm long, 1935mm wide and 1616mm high the Audi e-tron offers luxury accommodation for five adults as well as a maximum 660 litres of luggage.
Of course, the attention is very much focused on the Audi e-tron’s performance as a purely electric vehicle in real world application. Here, it impresses with slippery aerodynamics, ground-breaking new tech and obviously its very usable range and ease of charging.
The fact that the e-tron can cover more than 400km off a single charge is due mainly to the innovative recuperation system, which is responsible for up to 30 percent of the range. The electric SUV can recover energy by either coasting recuperation when the driver releases the accelerator, or by means of braking recuperation when the brake pedal is depressed. In both cases, the electric motors function as a generator and convert the kinetic energy of the Audi e-tron into electric energy. At up to 0.3 g of deceleration, the electric SUV recuperates solely via the electric motors, which is the case well over 90 percent of the time.
The wheel brakes do not come into play until the driver uses the brake pedal to decelerate with more than 0.3 g, and then they react extremely quickly thanks to a new electro-hydraulic actuation concept. Audi is the first carmaker worldwide to employ this in an electric-powered series-production model. When braking from 100km/h, for example, the Audi e-tron can recuperate electric power with a maximum of 300Nm and 220kW, which corresponds to more than 70 percent of its operating energy input – greater than any other series production model.
The electro-hydraulically integrated brake control system decides as a function of the driving situation whether the e-tron uses the electric motor, wheel brake or a combination of the two for recuperation – with this taking place individually at each axle so smoothly that the driver won’t even notice.
The Audi e-tron is also a slippery character in an aerodynamic sense. Fitted with the ground-breaking virtual wing mirrors – a first for a series production model – it manages a ‘best in segment’ drag coefficient of just 0.27. Other aerodynamic highlights are less obvious, but no less effective – like the air suspension and the fully lined underbody with the aluminium plate to protect the high-voltage battery. Likewise the adjustable cooling air intake which includes channels for cooling the front brakes and serves as a switching point for the complex thermal management system with the standard heat pump.
The Audi e-tron is fitted with the ground-breaking virtual wing mirrors – a first for a series production model
An Audi charging service provides e-tron customers with easy access to roughly 80 percent of the public charging stations in Europe
The Audi e-tron is the first series production vehicle that can charge at fast charging stations with direct current (DC) at up to 150kW – translating to a half hour charge time in real terms. It can also be recharged with alternating current (AC) at up to 11kW and recharging with 22kW is available as an option.
An Audi charging service provides e-tron customers with easy access to roughly 80 percent of the public charging stations in Europe, with new facilities and stations being constantly added.
In addition the solutions for charging at home include the standard mobile charging system with either a 230 volt household outlet or a 400 volt three-phase outlet. The optional ‘connect’ charging system doubles the charging power up to a total of 22kW and, combined with a home energy management system, it offers intelligent functions such as charging when electricity is less expensive or with solar electricity if the home is equipped with a solar power system. All of this can also be controlled via their smartphone with the myAudi app.
The e-tron is a technology showcase, its interior a work of modern art. From the sweeping dash area which houses OLED screens for the optional virtual mirrors, to the two large MMI touch screens that do away with conventional switches, it is clean, open and supremely functional yet elegant.
All controls are oriented towards the driver as you would expect in a performance Audi. Many functions can also be controlled via the natural voice control system and with the standard Audi virtual cockpit, the driver can choose between two views that present all information in the form of sharp, high-resolution graphics. The optional Audi virtual cockpit plus offers a third screen that highlights the electric drive system.
Equipment is impressive, with MMI navigation plus, including LTE Advanced and Wi-Fi hotspot. The navigation system makes intelligent destination suggestions based on previous routes, ideally supplemented by the e-tron route planner. This displays the suitable route with the required charging points and factors the required charging time in its arrival time calculation.
Of course there are all of the driver assist systems you would expect, including the standard efficiency assist which helps the driver to extract the most from the vehicle economically. The system uses radar sensors, camera images, navigation data and Car-to-X information to detect the traffic environment and the route and in combination with the adaptive cruise assist, the efficiency assist can also brake and accelerate the Audi e-tron predictively. Backing the assist systems is the central driver assistance controller, which continuously computes an exact model of the environment. The required data is obtained – depending on the selected options – from up to five radar sensors, six cameras, 12 ultrasound sensors and the laser scanner.
The Audi e-tron will also be the brand’s first model to allow customers to add certain functions online whenever the need for them arises. Available from mid-2019 onwards customers will be able to upgrade LED headlights to matrix LED headlights with intelligently controlled high beams, as well as selected assist systems or infotainment extras.
First deliveries of the Audi e-tron will begin in Europe towards the end of the year, with the international rollout to follow. In certain markets, customers who have already reserved their car can choose the exclusive ‘Audi e-tron edition one’, a special model limited edition model of 2600 featuring special design details and equipment.
The Audi e-tron is due to arrive on Australian shores by early-2020, with pricing and specification confirmed ahead of local launch. Register your interest in the Audi e-tron to receive updates from Audi Australia in the lead up to its arrival.
The Audi e-tron will also be the brand’s first model to allow customers to add certain functions online whenever the need for them arises
Want to ensure you always receive the latest news and features from Audi? Subscribe now to the Audi Magazine newsletter.