Audi wants to teach Tesla a lesson

Audi has big plans with electric cars. The first model, the fully electric e-Tron, is for sale this year and surpasses the competition when it comes to fast charging. In 2025, there must be at least ten electric Audi models in the showrooms.

The ‘premium’ car brands tumble over this year to emphasize how lovingly they embrace electric driving. Jaguar gave the starting shot with the I-Pace, followed by Mercedes, with the EQC and now Audi shows his teeth. The brand announces an offensive that does not lie.

Even before the end of this year, the e-Tron, a fully electric SUV, arrives in showrooms. Next year, the e-Tron Sportback will make its debut, followed a year later by a sports coupe, the GT, and a small model that will get the same platform as the electric Volkswagens that will appear in the coming years. In addition, an electric platform will be developed in collaboration with Porsche, which will also create some new Audi cars in different price ranges from 2022 onwards. In 2025, Audi will offer at least ten fully electric models in Europe.

They are ambitious plans, but at the same time Audi realizes that the combustion engine has not been done for a long time. The brand expects that in 2025 petrol and diesel cars will still account for three quarters of sales. The electric car has a long way to go before it can reach the masses. Most countries in the world have few charging stations. And then electric cars are also by definition more expensive to purchase than conventional cars. However, an electric car is cheaper to use. After all, electricity costs less than petrol or diesel and an electric car require less maintenance.

Anyway, the beginning is now with Audi and the e-Tron is in many ways a special car. His exterior mirrors can be replaced (optional) with cameras and screens in the doors. This reduces air resistance, which has a major influence on the driving range of electric cars. But the e-Tron, which is rolling out of the tire in Vorst (Brussels), also stands out with Audi’s unparalleled Quattro all-wheel drive and standard air suspension. In addition, it can draw a trailer and that cannot be said of all electric cars.

The e-Tron can be ordered from November. His price list starts at 82,400 euros (including VAT). The two electric motors, transmission and associated electronics are integrated in the front and rear axles. The battery pack is 2.28 meters long and 1.63 meters wide: just as big as a double bed. “For us as designers, such an electric car brings a number of advantages,” says Mattijs van Tuijl. The Dutchman has designed the interior of the e-Tron. “In conventional SUVs the powertrain leads to a large tunnel in the floor. But with this electric car we could make the floor at the backseat completely flat. The car is therefore full five-person. The drive technology did not get in the way between the front seats either. It made innovative design possible in the console: we have made openings in it and you look right through it now.”

The e-Tron comes with a full battery charge at least 400km, according to the new and more realistic WLTP test procedure. That is the same as the Mercedes EQC and pretty decent, but the Jaguar I-Pace and even the much cheaper Hyundai Kona Electric continue. When it comes to fast charging, this Audi does set new standards: it can handle fast chargers up to 150 kW, making it unique in this class for the time being. To fully charge the car, you need 8.5 hours with a normal power connection. With a reasonably powerful charging station that works in 4.5 hours.

Like every electric car, the e-Tron also runs fast, but it is not faster than the competition. He pulls from standstill to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds. If the driver uses the ‘boost’ function for extra power (that can take up to 8 seconds), then it will succeed in 5.7 seconds.

“This is not just a new car. The world is changing very fast and with this car we are preparing Audi for a new future,” says Bram Schot. The Dutchman has recently been appointed CEO of Audi, because top man Rupert Stadler ended up behind lock and key because of alleged involvement in the scandal with the cheating software. “A lot has happened at Audi lately,” Schot sums up events soberly. “And that is why this car is also psychologically important to us. He is entering a new era. We do not want to linger in the past.”

The question remains why Audi has waited so long for the introduction of an electric car. For this reason, competitor Tesla has had a good lead over many years. Schot: “We were simply not ready for it yet. Everyone thinks we hate Tesla but that is not the case. I am very happy that Tesla exists. That brand has awakened us, the existing car manufacturers, all awake. If Tesla had not been there, we would not have gone so far with electric cars. But now that we are going to participate, we will teach them a lesson.”

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