By on August 6, 2020

Have you seen an Audi E-Tron (officially, “e-tron”) on the street? This writer hasn’t. Yet the electric Audi crossover has been on offer for a little over a year now, slowly paving the way for an all-electric future.

Available to U.S. customers through special order and to dealers who just wish to keep one around, the E-Tron arrived in early 2019 with 204 miles of EPA-rated range. It’s now back after skipping a model year, with two improvements aimed at broader consumer appeal, if not adoption.

For starters, the ’21 E-Tron can go further on a tank of electrons. Range is now claimed at 222, though the EPA will have the final say on that. It seems the vehicle can now use 3 kWh more of its 95 kWh battery’s available charge, eking out a greater driving distance.

Another range-boosting feature is the model’s newfound ability to shut down the front motor in regular driving scenarios, leaving the rear motor/axle to provide all the power. The front motor will come online when acceleration is needed, or when slippage is detected with the rear wheels. Can’t have an all-wheel drive vehicle copping out when it’s needed most.

For these improvements, Audi will ask less dough, which could be enough to get some green types interested. The model’s price sees a $8,800 haircut for ’21, stickering for $66,995 to start.

Joining the E-Tron this year is a new, coupe-ified Sportback variant. That model’s range is said to be 218 miles. If spending money’s your thing and class-leading range isn’t, you’ll be pleased to know that Premium Plus trims (of either model) carry a recharging port on both sides of the vehicle.

With Audi’s home market getting first dibs on the vehicle, sales in the U.S. didn’t set any charts aflame. The manufacturer knew this would be a niche model in that market, so it didn’t compel dealers to carry stock they knew would be hard to sell. If they wanted it, it was available, however, and certainly the same sentiment went for consumers looking to order though their local Audi retailer.

In 2019, Audi sold 5,369 E-Trons, with the first half of 2020 showing 2,872 sales. Volume took a dive in the second quarter of the year as the pandemic hit home, leading to a  37-percent volume loss for the brand’s sole electric model. The Sportback should see deliveries start by the end of summer.

[Images: Audi AG]

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14 Comments on “A Scarce Audi Lands Extra Range, Lower Price...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    222 miles from 95 kWh is shameful. For $67k to start, that Audi interior had better be worth it.

    Audi can call this a niche vehicle with low sales volume, but that’s just their excuse for it being terrible.

    Another Tesla killer from an ‘established’ mfr. What a bad joke.

    If you want that handsome ‘sportback’ shape for the same price, the (Volvo) Polestar 2 is a better choice.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, Audi doesn’t manufacture E-trons in a tent, so there’s that…

      But, yeah, this is a pretty lame effort. As hreardon points out, the problem is that they didn’t build it on a dedicated EV platform, so the product is compromised. The upcoming stuff from VW/Audi/Porsche should be much better.

      (The interior is REALLY nice, BTW.)

      • 0 avatar

        “Well, Audi doesn’t manufacture E-trons in a tent, so there’s that…” I’m assuming this is an attempt at humour.

        VW (Audi’s owner) *IS* using a tent to [manually] update/fix their non-working firmware for their thousands of unsold undriveable IDs. No information available as to whether the original firmware problems were actually caused by the existence of said tent. Where are all the bashing comments about it!?

        OTOH, a couple of years later Tesla’s tent has stood the test of time and was obviously a good business decision. Those who remain tent-fearful should perhaps go study some facts.

        • 0 avatar

          How is Tesla’s build quality problems coming along? Any measurable improvement? Last I heard, misaligned body panels were still a bugaboo they haven’t fixed, but to your point, I have not heard much tent activity in the recent past. Perhaps they’ve got those issues resolved.

          Are you saying that VW/Audi has gotten a pass on something? Their feet have been held to the fire on a number of problems over the last 5-8 years or so.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah, I sense a butthurt Tesla fanboy here…

            Sorry, dude…if you’re doing the Pepsi Quality Build Challenge with Audis and Teslas, we both know who’s gonna lose that battle. And lest you think I have no idea how Audis are built, and just wants to bag on Tesla, I’m an Audi owner who has tried out a Model 3 and would actually buy it, warts and all, if not for the silly Touchscreen Uber Alles dashboard.

  • avatar

    Well, this is what happens when you try to adapt a traditional ICE platform to electrification. The e-tron is a hybrid MLB architecture that was originally designed for ICE.

    The upcoming cars from VW and Audi that are based on the full electric MEB architecture are designed from the ground up to be electric only, like the new Taycan, which is significantly more competitive, vis-a-vis Tesla.

    For what it’s worth, according to InsideEVs, the e-tron was the best selling electric SUV in Europe through the 1st half of this year.

  • avatar

    I’ve seen one around where I live. Also have seen one Jag iPace. The price tag in 2019 was too high, so the correction is smart. As a used buy though, I think the e-Tron is fantastic. A loaded ’19 with barely any miles is like $55K, and I sure as hell would take that deal over the hideous Model Y duck face mobile egg contraption with its terrible interior.

    Also, people love to trash the range on these, but Tesla EPA ranges seem to be WILDLY optimistic. Under normal driving conditions, you get like 220 miles out of a Tesla, not 300.

    Audi will also not tell you to go pound sand when your e-Tron has a total meltdown, like Tesla did to Car and Driver and their car, until they went public with it, and then hey look at that, here’s a loaner!

    They also know how to paint cars properly, align door panels and seals properly, etc etc etc.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, the Model Y is no looker, but there is some oddity with e-Tron’s proportions. It looks like they pulled a Q5 from both bumpers and added some melting looks. It’s just a bit odd.

    • 0 avatar

      EV with a huge ugly grill, yeah the epitome of beauty.

    • 0 avatar

      “Under normal driving conditions, you get like 220 miles out of a Tesla, not 300.” What are normal conditions? I can beat the EPA range on my EV by 20% on my normal commute. There I’m lucky to beat my average speed on a bicycle. If I’m blasting along 10 to 15 MPH over the highest speed limit in my state, the range ain’t so good. I’ve seen reviews where they’ve driven Teslas closer to EPA speeds and they’ve been right on. I’ve had the same issues with ICE cars. Drive them faster and harder than the EPA speeds, and the mileage is going to suck.

  • avatar

    Really, 222 miles on 95kWh when a Tesla Model X can do nearly 300, maybe more? Hopefully the thing is priced a lot lower than the Model X, too.

  • avatar

    I’m excited about the Sportback, and I have started planning my acquisition process:

    Step 1: Find shorter friends and family.

  • avatar

    Weigh it up. The Jaguar I Pace is better than the Etron on range and cheaper than the Tesla Model X. It has an interior that has buttons and proper wing mirrors. It’s built in a proper car factory and not in a tent. It scores higher on reliability than Tesla and Jaguar as a brand is now doing about as well/ badly as Audi on reliability. For me the I Pace would be my go to car in this sector. Second would be the Audi and third the Tesla. Why Tesla last? I like their models but the way they are screwed together leaves a lot to be desired. Too much even for a guy who loves old British sports cars…..

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