There are also specific wheel designs for the E-tron (“The task was to create aerodynamic wheels which still look sporty,” said Fahr-Becker) and orange hints – for example, in the name badge and optional orange brake calipers. “We took the colour from high-voltage cables. We wanted to create a special colour to accentuate that its electric,” Fahr-Becker added.
Aerodynamics also played an important part in the design to help with the E-tron’s range, said Audi, achieving a drag coefficient of 0.28. There is an air inlet with ducts for cooling the front brakes, as well as adaptable, speed-dependent air suspension and a fully clad underbody. The E-tron also sits slightly lower than a traditional SUV; at 1616mm high, it’s 43mm lower than the Q5.
The four-wheel-drive E-tron uses two asynchronous motors, one at the front axle and one at the rear axle, producing up to 402bhp and 487lb ft. In normal mode, it produces 355bhp and 414lb ft and is capable of 0-60mph in 6.4secs. At full power, in boost mode, it achieves 0-60mph in 5.5secs. Top speed is 124mph. Energy to power the motors comes from a 95kWh battery – the largest on the market and only matched by Tesla’s top-of-the-range Model S 100D.
Single-stage transmissions transfer drive to the wheels, and the lion’s share goes to the rear axle at moderate speeds. At full load, it will be a 50/50 split.
The car uses an energy recuperation system which, on average, contributes 30% to the range, says Audi. There are two ways: coasting recuperation when the driver releases the accelerator, or braking recuperation when he or she depresses the brake pedal.
Using 150kW public fast chargers, which are currently uncommon, the E-tron will be capable of charging up to 80% in 30 minutes. Audi is one of a number of car makers (including BMW, Daimler and Ford) that have invested in charging network Ionity. Audi says the network should have nearly 1200 150kW charging points running by the end of this year and 2400 by 2020.
Audi electrification product boss Anno Mertens said that while only 5 to 10% of charging happens on public chargers, it is very important because the “customer would not buy an electric car if it were not possible”. He said the target range (which has been achieved on the E-tron) is 20 to 30 minutes. “That’s today’s benchmark – at 50kW, it would be 80mins which is unacceptable. But customers would like to see 10 minutes which is why we’re constantly working on future generations with higher charging power.”
Audi will offer an E-tron charging service card which will allow access to the majority of charging points through one card, rather than having to have accounts with different providers.