Written by Andre James
Photos courtesy of Audi
A bold step in Audi’s commitment to achieving approximately 30 percent of US sales from electric vehicles by 2025, the German automaker formally introduced its first fully electric production model—the e-tron—in San Francisco this past September. The e-tron will be the first of three battery-electric vehicles the company plans to debut by 2020.
A new concept with a familiar face, the e-tron is unmistakably Audi in its appearance, which will likely help in wooing on-the-fence electric buyers. Measuring 193-inches long and a touch over 76-inches wide, the five-passenger, performance-oriented SUV is only slightly smaller than Audi’s latest Q8 flagship SUV.
The all-wheel drive e-tron is powered by two electric motors capable of accelerating the vehicle from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and on to a respectable top speed of 124 mph. The rear motor handles most of the driving, but Audi reports that the front axle can be engaged in a fraction of a second to achieve optimum traction and directional stability in a variety of driving conditions. Seven driving modes are available via the Drive Select system. Depending on road speed and driving style, the suspension adjusts the body’s ride height by up to 3 inches.
An innovative recuperation system encompassing both motors boosts efficiency when coasting and breaking; Audi engineers estimate that this system is responsible for as much as 30 percent of the e-tron’s range. The driver has the ability to select the degree of energy recovery in three stages by means of paddles on the steering wheel. US range estimates weren’t available at press time, although Audi’s European testing reported a range of approximately 249 miles.
The e-tron is engineered for both AC and DC charging. In an industry first to-date, the e-tron has announced a DC fast charging capability of up to 150 kW available at select high-speed public charging stations capable of delivering up to an 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes. Audi and Electrify America have pledged to have 500 of these fast-charging facilities either under construction or completed in 40 states by July 2019. E-tron customers will receive 1,000 kWh of free charging at the Electrify America sites over four years of ownership. For residential charging, a standard 9.6 kW AC capsule charger is provided, and can deliver a full charge overnight utilizing a standard 120-volt household outlet.
A partnership with Amazon Home Services will allow Audi e-tron buyers to set up a fully-digital experience for in-home electric vehicle charging installations. Using the myAudi app, customers can plan, control and monitor the charging and preheating/cooling of their electric SUV. The app also displays charging and driving data. Amazon’s Alexa has been fully integrated into the MMI system, and allows the driver/passengers to access many of the same features and services in their e-tron as they can in their home or through other Alexa-enabled devices.
Outfitted with all the comfort and high-tech accoutrements befitting an Audi, the driver-oriented cabin boasts a central Audi virtual cockpit with a slim, visually free-standing display, two MMI touch response displays, a standard Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System, and a phone box for inductive smartphone charging. Customers are able to choose from a host of comfort, driving and technology amenity packages for a fully customized driving experience.
Base price for the Premium Plus trim level e-tron is $75,795. Customers can now configure and reserve their e-tron with a fully refundable $1,000 reservation fee in advance of delivery in mid-2019.
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