Geneva - Audi’s first all-electric car is close to hitting the road, and the wraps came off the near production-ready E-tron prototype at the Geneva motor show on Tuesday.

The E-tron SUV offers a preview of the first fully electric model from the brand with the four rings, and the production version will go on sale in Europe at the end of 2018. The sporty premium SUV has space for five people along with plenty of luggage room, despite there being a large lithium-ion battery integrated into the floor of the passenger compartment.

The Geneva prototype vehicle is camouflaged with a specially developed design film with distorted E-tron lettering stretching across the entire flank, as if it was charged with electricity. This 'electrifying' wrap showcases the high-voltage drive system which powers both axles using quattro drive.

Oddly, Audi doesn’t quote any power outputs or performance figures but the vehicle is likely to be based on the running gear of the Audi E-tron quattro concept car of 2015, which had one electric motor driving the front axle, and two others on the rear axle for a total output of 320kW – good for a claimed 0-100km/h sprint in 4.6 seconds and an electronically governed 210km/h top speed.

Audi says the production E-tron will have a range “suitable for daily use” but doesn’t quote what distance it will achieve on a charge, though the 2015 concept vehicle had a quoted range of around 500km. The automaker says that at fast-charging stations the E-tron will be able to charge up for the next leg of a long-distance journey in just under 30 minutes.

Before going on sale the pre-series vehicles will complete test drives on four continents in extreme climate zones ranging from below -20 to above +50 degrees Celsius.

Audi has previously said that the E-tron SUV will cost about the same as a well-specced Audi A6.


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