Audi's slippery e-tron SUV concept
By: Dave Abrahams
Ingolstadt, Germany - These are the first images Audi has released of what it expects to be the star of its display at next month's Frankfurt motor show.
The e-tron quattro concept gives us the strongest indication yet of what to expect when Audi's first large-series electric car goes into production in 2018.
The concept is based on Audi's second-generation modular longitudinal platform - chosen to provide as much wriggle-room as possible for the drivetrain. It's about midway between the Q5 and Q7 in length, with typical SUV proportions and a sweeping roofline. The concept has been furnished (and we use that world carefully) for four occupants.
Its three electric motors - one on the front and two on the rear axle - provide what Ingolstadt's marketing mavens are already calling an 'electrified quattro drive' and the big lithium-ion battery pack is mounted under the floor of the passenger compartment, with its not inconsiderable weight equally distributed between front and rear axles for maximum stability and optimum driving dynamics.
One of the biggest plus points of electric cars is that they don't need cooling air intakes, and the e-tron quattro concept has been designed from the ground up to take advantage of that.
It has movable aerodynamic elements at the front, sides and rear to improve airflow around the body, and a completely flat enclosed underbody. Audi is quoting a cd value of 0.25 - a new record for an SUV-style body - and claims the car's slippery shape contributes 'significantly' to its potential range of more than 500km.
And that's the bottom line: if the production version can handle 500 kilometres without recharging, at a steady 130km/h (the minimum speed limit in the fast lane on Germany's autobahns) then we reckon Audi has cracked it, as far as bringing battery cars into the mainstream is concerned.