Audi E-Tron SUV

Audi E-Tron SUV

Source: Jakob Haerter

By: Milo Hartmann

Tesla and Jaguar should be at least a little bit worried about Audi’s new electric SUV. While the Audi e-tron GT and e-tron sedan might never make it into production, the Audi e-tron SUV will start deliveries in late May for whoever reserved one. Many other German automakers are struggling to get into the electric game, but the Volkswagen group, still somewhat recovering from the dieselgate scandal, has big plans for an all electric future. The company reported trying to go all electric in the next few years. They are also going to release their first completely electric car in late 2019. The question is: will it be able to take on Tesla and other electric cars, or will it flop?

The car comes with Audi’s Quattro all wheel drive system and 402 horsepower that is powered by a 95kWh battery with the ability to charge at 150kW DC. Audi claims that it will be upgraded to a 350kW charging ability in the future. It gets its power from two motors. The car has a zero to sixty time of 5.5 seconds and 5 different driving modes including off road. The car has air suspension as well. The e-tron has about 204 miles of estimated range. It starts at $74,800 for the Premium Plus trim and $81,800 for the Prestige trim. The Prestige trim comes with a head-up display, massaging seats, a premium Bang and Olufsen sound system and many driver assist features. The car also has technology such as traffic sign recognition, Audi’s almost standard virtual cockpit, and Amazon Alexa.

The car looks very similar to the Audi Q7, Q8, and Q5. It has the typical Audi hexagon shaped grill, but bigger and closed off, since electric cars do not need air intakes. The E-Tron SUV also shares the same tail light bar that Audi’s electric concept cars also have, along with the Q8 and similar to the A7. The car’s interior is quite premium indeed, with leather seats as an option, but also a more environmentally friendly fabric. The infotainment system consists of two screens placed on a way similar to Range Rover and Land Rover. It seats 5 people and has many more luxury options. The car has an aluminum or wood trim. One interesting piece of tech that is very quirky and limited to pretty much the e-tron is that it has cameras for mirrors. The cameras show what they see on two triangle displays. The only issue with this is that it has trouble being bright enough to see. Tim Stevens from cnet reported: “Even on their brightest setting, the triangular panels are noticeably dimmer than the car’s other interior displays, a problem made worse with polarized sunglasses. The resolution also feels adequate compared to a traditional mirror.”

The big question here is: will the e-tron be able to sell well against the Tesla model X and Jaguar I-Pace? Audi is selling the car from a quick day trip perspective. Audi is claiming/advertising that most work commutes are on average 160 miles per week. That means that the e-tron can cover all of that in one charge. The most comparable Tesla Model X 75D and Jaguar I-Pace both have bigger range at 237 and 234 miles. Yes, you can buy a top of the line Model X with 289 miles, but that costs about $140,000. The base Model X costs around $10,000 more than the base e-tron, so that is also a factor. The I-Pace starts at $69,000 so they are more of a competitor. The Tesla has a bigger battery (100 kW), and weighs 500 pounds less than the e-tron, so it will obviously have longer range. The I-Pace has a smaller battery (90 kW), but it is lighter and more of a crossover/SUV and not the obvious SUV that the e-tron is. I do think that Audi might struggle for a while to sell the e-tron since many buyers look at the range and don’t realize that they won’t need to use the car to its maximum mileage every day. It will also have to overcome a disadvantage: charging stations. Tesla already has very many supercharging stations out, with 580 in the U.S., but the Volkswagen group is already on the move, with plans to have about 2,800 charging stations in the U.S. by June of 2019. Porsche is also working on their own charging stations as well as Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The e-tron should have no issues finding a spot to charge. Hopefully, the e-tron will sell enough to earn a recognized spot in the EV market so that by the time most manufacturers have switched to electric in 2020 maybe, it will be able to hold its own. I think that in general this is a solid car, and it will be able perform in terms of sales against other cars.

This car is clearly related to engineering since Audi had to create their first electric car. They are using brand new mirror technology that will probably end up as part of the engineering design process when they fix the screens to make them brighter. Audi and the Volkswagen group are also working on improving their battery capacity and charging stations with chemical and mechanical engineering.