More Details on Audi’s Upcoming E-trons

This is what we have known about the two Audi e-tron crossovers expected to launch in 2018 and 2019: We know Audi is putting its plug-in and full EVs under the e-tron brand. We know that the first full EV e-tron will arrive later next year with the second for 2019. But while we’ve seen the concept vehicles, we have not known much else about the upcoming e-trons. Until now.

Thanks to interviews with Audi R&D head Peter Mertens and Technical Director for Powertrains Siegfried Pint for Car and Driver, more light has been shed on the ostensible Tesla alternatives.

The e-tron Quattro and e-tron Sportback SUV-coupe will fit in between Audi’s compact Q5 and full-size Q7 crossovers. If they split the difference between the two, that puts the e-trons at around 190-inches long and 76-inches wide. Exterior styling will stay close to the concept vehicles.

Inside, expect a cabin design that follows the look, feel, and layout of the all-new A8. With some extra electric instrumentation.

Expect the vehicles to be offered in multiple battery sizes. That helps them to better compete with Tesla’s Model X by allowing them to make the same range and cost tradeoffs the Model X’s 75 and 100 kilowatt-hour batteries allow.

SEE ALSO: Audi E-Tron Sportback to Begin Production in 2019

Advanced charging for the e-tron models is expected to be a strong selling point. Audi has confirmed that 150 kilowatt fast charging will be possible for the production car. That charge rate allows an 80 percent charge – about 200 miles – in half an hour. Audi officials hinted that higher power charging could be possible, but that it wouldn’t be enabled right away. Mertens confirmed that Audi and Porsche are collaborating on the vehicle platforms and components, but wouldn’t say if Audi was sharing Porsche’s 800 volt charging tech.

There aren’t currently any 150-kW charging stations open to the public in the US, but they are expected to start to pop up by the time the e-tron SUV launches.

Siegfried Pint told Car and Driver that e-tron models won’t lose performance with repeated full power runs the way some other fast electrics can experience. That means that the vehicles will have liquid cooling for the battery, motors, and some other components. Keeping the cells cool means keeping peak performance. The e-tron battery packs are designed to accept pouch cells from LG or prismatic cells from Samsung for added flexibility. And to stop Audi from being tied to a single supplier.

E-tron Quattro models will have all-wheel drive, of course. Otherwise, Audi would be hard pressed to label them Quattro. Base models get a two-motor system – one front, one rear – but an upper spec model will get three motors. Two in the back, one in the front. That will allow torque to be varied between each rear wheel, with Pint saying that the vehicles are capable of putting up to 1,500 pound-feet of torque to just one wheel. Pint said that the three-motor system’s torque vectoring give better traction and handling in slippery conditions than gas or diesel models.

Audi will be designing their own motors for the cars. It won’t be an AC-induction motor like Tesla’s Model S or the permanent-magnet design that is common to the Model 3 and many other EVs. Audi doesn’t want to be saddled with rare earth material risks and costs, so are making current-excited synchronous motors that give better efficiency and output with less costly raw materials. The design requires current to be supplied to the rotor windings instead of being induced by the magnetic field.

Audi still hasn’t revealed what its third e-tron model will be. With two crossovers already, a more performance-focused model would be well received. But a third, smaller crossover is also likely.

Car and Driver


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