By on September 18, 2018

Image: Audi

Audi found itself preempted in a number of ways last night. Not only did the San Francisco unveiling of the brand’s new electric crossover take place not too far from the home of Tesla’s well-established Model X, it also comes as Jaguar’s I-Pace EV prepares to pop up at U.S. dealers. Meanwhile, rival Mercedes-Benz saw fit to debut its EQC electric crossover just two weeks prior.

The crossover’s side-view cameras — pods on the end of thin arms, replacing a traditional mirror (and not legal in the U.S.) — would have been revolutionary, had Lexus not revealed its Japanese-market ES last week. And, if that wasn’t enough, Elon Musk choose Monday night to reveal the hapless individual slated to become the first SpaceX tourist. The lucky bidder will be fired around the moon.

All of this took away from the unveiling of a conventionally styled utility vehicle tailor made to avoid striking terror into the hearts of non-EV fans.

The E-Tron, which arrives in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2019, shouldn’t alarm anyone, unless they’re thinking of long and winding road trips into the great unknown. There’s two electric motors on tap, one per axle, and a 95 kWh battery pack funnelling juice fore and aft. Naturally, all four wheels see a helping of electric torque.

Image: Audi

It’s not the fastest EV crossover out there, nor is it the longest-ranged. Audi claims a 0-60 mph time of 5.5 seconds — a sprint time no former Tiguan or Compass owner would complain about. The automaker’s stated range of just under 250 miles on the WLTP cycle probably translates into something around 220 miles on the EPA test course, which may prompt cries of “Not enough!” Rear cargo volume measuring 28.5 cubic feet places it just ahead of the EQC, but well behind the Model X. Starting price in the U.S. is $74,800, plus destination.

The E-Tron is, however, a combination of the elements Audi feels it can best sell to the buying public, traditional bodystyle and outward appearance included. Sure, it could have gone wild, presenting a roadgoing vision of the future, but how many people would that attract, versus the number it would repel? Two large touch screens (10.1 inches and 8.6 inches) that fill the entirety of the center stack should placate tech nerds once nestled inside — assuming they’re not holding out for the only “real” EV, also known as a Tesla.

Image: Audi

As we’re still a ways away from E-Tron deliveries, Audi isn’t saying exactly what to expect in terms of curb weight and power. However, past snippets released by the automaker reveal that in “boost” mode (ie – throttle to the floor), the vehicle unlocks extra electrons to the tune of roughly 400 horsepower and 490 lb-ft. In normal driving, however, the rear motor handles the thrust duties to conserve range. Dig into the accelerator too much, dive into a corner too fast, or come across a patch of slippery pavement, and the front motor comes online to manage forward progress. Audi claims up to 90 percent of braking can occur without using the friction brakes. Like most EVs, you’ll be able to dial up the desired amount of regenerative braking (and energy capture).

You’ll also be able to raise and lower the E-Tron by three inches, lessening drag at highway speeds ot keeping the underside free of pointy things while venturing off-road. The highway lowering occurs without driver intervention.

Image: Audi

As a perk to buyers (orders opened Monday), Audi’s offering 1,000 kWh of free charging at Electrify America stations. You know that entity — it’s the one Audi’s parent, Volkswagen Group, was forced to create in the wake of the diesel affair. The charging network isn’t fleshed out at the moment. At a DC fast-charge plug, Audi claims the E-Tron can take on an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. Obviously, charging is an overnight thing when hooked to a 240-volt home outlet.

With the E-Tron, Audi created a somewhat conservative challenger ready to do battle in the premium EV utility field. Soon, there’ll be an electric BMW X3 entering the fray, with Hyundai and Ford crossover EVs positioned in the mainstream subcompact and compact classes, respectively, before too long.

[Images: Audi]

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18 Comments on “2019 Audi E-Tron: And Then There Were Four… Premium Electric Crossovers...”

  • avatar

    It’s interesting to me that what I perceive as a “big” battery at 95kwh, when placed into a vehicle trying to be normal instead of as efficient as possible, ends up giving rather poor range. Manufacturers will need to stuff a ~140kwh of battery into these things for these “normal” type electric vehicles to match the range of their internal combustion engine cousins they want to replace. I don’t even think you can fit that much battery into them yet just as a physical space constraint, never mind the weight and price penalties.

    Sigh, my kids might drive electric cars, but I don’t see that in my future before retirement.

  • avatar

    I just don’t see how, in most families, an electric vehicle like this can work without having a conventionally fueled companion vehicle for longer journeys. Range anxiety issues apart, 220 miles of actual range wouldn’t get me from home in Fort Wayne, IN to Indianapolis, the nearest larger city, and back. Chicago is farther away, as are Cleveland or Columbus. Millions of car drivers do the same math.

    So how is an electric SUV to perform the function as family hauler? It can’t, not without utter reliance on charging stations at the destination or on the way.

    An EV is much easier to justify for short/mid distance commuting duty, and for that you don’t need an SUV.

    • 0 avatar

      The short answer is that people don’t travel long distances as much as they think they do.

      And it’s $75k, so the people buying this can afford to park a Q7 next to it for their beach trips or whatever while one of the parents DDs the e-tron and uses it to take the kids harpsichord practice after school.

      • 0 avatar

        “The short answer is that people don’t travel long distances as much as they think they do.”

        In most of the USA 125 miles each way doesn’t constitute a long distance: it’s a couple of hours and then the same back, easy drive. I know tons of people who do that all the time: go down to Indy for lunch, shopping, a family visit, then back the same day.

        And you don’t have to do it “much” to make a 220 mile range not work for you. You only have to do it at all.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s worse than you think Neil. 220 miles is under ideal conditions. Try cruising fully-loaded at 75-80mph with the A/C or Heater in very hot or very cold weather and you will easily lose 40+% of that range (i.e. 132 miles of realistic range if you drive to near “empty”). Then when you recharge, you won’t get 100% unless you want to wait several hours, because the fast charging (30 minutes) only gets you to 80% (i.e. just over 100 miles of realistic range). Add in a few lost bars of battery after 5+ years of wear and tear, and your 220 miles of range might be well under 100 miles in day-to-day driving. Or you could saving $10+K and buy the SQ5 so you can drive 400 miles per tank and refill in 5 minutes and drive another 400 miles – and the “tank size” stays the same for the life of the vehicle.

          • 0 avatar

            @stingray: With my heat pump equipped car, I think I’ve only seen the 50% drop with sub-zero temperatures – although to be fair that was at the 55 mph speed limit. Cooling doesn’t seem to be as large of a hit. In fact it’s almost negligible since my battery seems to like hot temperatures and I get more range to compensate for any loss. Still, for my next car, I’m figuring on a 1/3 range worst case.

            It’s not going to take several hours to go from 80% to 100%. The charge doesn’t suddenly drop to level 2 charge rates after 80%. It’s a gradual tapering off. I think I get to about 92% or thereabouts before I see the rate drop to 7 kW level 2. The real problem with charging at Electrify America stations is that I’ve found many with Uber Bolt infestations. Just two stations and Uber Bolt drivers that seem to be living out of their cars are sleeping and charging at the stations frequently. Tesla does it right with greater numbers of charging ports.

            Also, don’t be so sure about those bars dropping after a few years. New battery technology already in the newest EVs will put that issue off several years. I have no noticeable range loss at 71k miles. I still get 9 miles or so out of the first bar. Cycle times are in the 3k to 4k times in some of the latest batteries in production.

            The Uber Bolt thing is the reason I want to eliminate my need for public charging. For me, anything over 150 miles one way and I just fly. A 300+ mile EV is perfect for me. If I need to go further by car, I’ll add a Tesla to my fleet to take advantage of the larger charging network.

            Right now, EVs aren’t the right fit for some families. Others are just fine. It’s all about what sort of drivetrain you like in your vehicle. If you test drive an EV and like many of us, never want to go back to life with an ICE, you’ll find a way to make it work. If it’s not for you, then don’t buy one. It’s as simple as that. Charging networks are growing and getting faster and battery tech is improving, so over time, more people will be able to enjoy an EV. Until then, they’ll just have to suffer with ICE technology for a bit longer.

  • avatar

    Electric airplanes will be the tough trick to pull off. Battery weight would limit an Airbus A380 to about 3 passengers and crew. Throw in the time suck of mid-air recharging and it’s not looking good right now.

  • avatar

    I still can’t get over the fact that Rupert Stadler is still in jail (last I heard?), and everyone’s acting like nothing happened and people are happily still buying VW and Audi products…

  • avatar

    Sub-600: Yes, perhaps fossil-fueled aircraft won’t join the horse-and-buggy, coal mines, and the landline in the dustbin of history, quite yet.

  • avatar

    Sorry but these electric cars will be nothing other than bit players in the market.

    Why would anyone buy this instead of a gas or hybrid powered Audi?

    For a 2nd car? Sorry but most of America 1) still would rather have a 2nd car they drive anywhere and everywhere and refill in under 5 minutes and 2) doesn’t have that kind of money laying around to blow on a toy.

    The more the automakers release these things, the more convinced I am that we will NEVER, EVER see mass adoption of electric vehicles. Then start reading about environmental damage from mining battery materials, problems with battery disposal, and the fact our grid would require insane investment to cope with the increased electric draw. It isn’t going to happen.

    Not that batteries and electric etc can’t play a part, but something drastic is going to have to come around to shift the market for that to happen.

    • 0 avatar

      There won’t be a drastic shift in the market, but rather, a slow transition. It has already started. Generally, electric car owners love their cars.
      Solar energy production now costs less than any other source.
      The infrastructure will come into place as market forces (and profit motives) demand. A dozen solar panels or so on your roof supplies you with free fuel. That will be especially nice the next time crude oil spikes over a hundred bucks a barrel.
      Rechargeable liquid fuel already exists. That’s likely where we’ll be in a decade or two. Changes are happening faster and faster.

      Meanwhile, a system of a small on-board generator to recharge the batteries if there’s no plug available would be just the ticket. If it ran off of natural gas, the emissions would be practically nil, other than carbon dioxide.

      • 0 avatar

        RHD – solar power is the most expensive power in the world, because you need to have complete gas/coal/nuclear backup for when the sun isn’t shining. See how the Koreans have done it:

  • avatar

    I’ll tell you the things I notice that I like.

    -Slats in the wheels giving a cool 80s vibe.
    -Gold badge e-tron on the filler door.
    -Interior design looks nice and clean, and I like a 4-spoke wheel.

  • avatar

    Another boring SUV. Next please.

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