October 18th, 2018 by Kyle Field
Audi’s new etron SUV is one of the most anticipated electric vehicles, and represents Audi’s entry into the high end electrified SUV race alongside Jaguar’s I-PACE, Mercedes’ EQC, and BMW’s iX3.
Audi officially showed off the production version of the etron SUV, which it has dubbed the etron 55 quattro, at an event in San Francisco last month and has since been taking its two production builds of the car out around the world to show off. We saw the blue variant in Santa Monica this past weekend at the Alt Car Expo, and learned this week that Audi will be showing the car off in the UK this week as well.
Audi’s new etron SUV will take center stage at the Electric Vehicle Experience Centre in the centre:mk shopping hub in Milton Keynes in the UK to lure buyers in before its official launch at the start of 2019. The etron 55 quattro will be priced at £70,805 in the UK or $75,800 USD in the US, according to an Audi representative we spoke with in Santa Monica, California on Saturday.
The massive new Audi etron 55 quattro will come to the market with a WLTP range of 248 miles, with Audi expecting to achieve somewhere in the neighborhood of 230-250 miles of range on the EPA cycle. With its 95kWh battery, that nets out to 2.6 miles | 4.2 kilometers per kilowatt-hour which is just a hair better than the efficiency of Tesla’s Model X. Audi’s team in Santa Monica shared that the 95kWh battery was comprised of 36 modules, but did not have any details about the specific chemistry being utilized.
Audi has wrapped the 95kWh battery in the etron SUV in sustainable aluminum, making it not only lighter weight, but more energy efficient to produce. While light in weight, aluminum has a heavy footprint that stamps out some of the energy efficiency benefits that comes from its use in automotive applications. Audi is looking to improve on that with its newly certified sustainable aluminum.
On the performance front, Audi’s official materials claim a 0-62 mph time of 5.7 seconds, while representatives in the US shared a 5.5 second 0-60 mph time. The impressive performance is made possible thanks to its dual 150kW motor setup that provides for all-wheel drive.
Audi’s team said that it has an ‘S’ variant of the etron 55 quattro already in the works that would see another motor added to the car for even more performance. Instant torque also comes into play and the new Audi etron 55 quattro is no slouch in that department either, with 664Nm of torque at the wheels.
On the charging front, the new Audi etron 55 quattro is equipped with a CCS Combo 1 port that enables DC fast charging, which allows it to recoup 80% of its capacity in just 30 minutes on a 150kW DC fast charging station.
We were not able to get into the vehicle to experience the plus interior firsthand in Santa Monica as the vehicle was down to an embarrassing 2 miles of charge at the show, but we are told that the user interface consists of two large MMI touchscreens. The driver will be kept safe by a host of sensors, including a radar array, a front mounted LIDAR sensor in the bumper, and parking sensors to complement a suite of cameras installed around the car.
The car features haptic feedback and voice control capabilities, much like what can be found the latest A6, A7 Sportback, A8 and Q8 models. Audi’s interiors have always felt more high tech than the rest of the German luxury cars out there, and Audi has plowed that same tech into the etron SUV as well.
Notably, Audi opted to keep the side mirrors on the production build of the Audi etron 55 quattro. Pushing the boundaries of legality and technology is always a touchy business, and adding tech that’s available but not quite legal is a part of that process. The world will inevitably see side view mirrors eliminated from passenger vehicles, the only question is whether that will happen as a function of fully autonomous driving, or as a function of regulators adopting a superior solution.
On Saturday, Audi shared that it had right around 3,200 reservations from the US, which can be made online and require a $1,000 deposit. Globally, Audi has racked up around 10,000 reservations for the new car which it noted would not be stocked at dealerships. Rather, Audi would build the vehicles to order, confident that it could produce enough to satisfy all of the preorders in the first year.
When asked how production would ramp up, the Audi representative confidently shared that it would be able to produce as many as needed, resting its statement confidently on its capability in automotive manufacturing while at the same time refusing to acknowledge the battery production capacity constraint.
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