The Audi e-tron got its long-awaited unveiling Monday in San Francisco. The five-passenger crossover is a direct competitor with Tesla Model S in performance, battery range (probably), creature comfort, price — almost everything but Tesla’s swoopy looks. Along with the Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla has its first real competition.
The e-tron ships in the second quarter of 2019, Audi said at the unveiling, with prices for three versions ranging from $75,795 with shipping to $87,695 for a limited edition First Edition. Audi didn’t announce driving range but we’ll estimate the 95-kWh powerpack should deliver 275 to 300 miles.
Electric vehicles amount to less than 1 percent of the 17 million cars sold in the US in the year. But the market continues to draw players, especially at the high end. Tesla has both the Model S sedan and Model X crossover. Jaguar has the highly regarded I-Pace that’s in the form of a crossover, and that, not a sedan, will be Jaguar’s interpretation of what the market is looking for. BMW last week showed the iNext concept vehicle that is the company’s view of where it will be in 2021: an electric-drive model also in the form of a crossover, with self-driving at Level 3 or Level 4 autonomy.
Unlike Tesla and Model S, Audi at launch will offer a single battery size, a 90 x 64 x 13-inch slice that fits to the bottom of the vehicle and contributes to the car’s slab-siding looking. At the introduction, Audi talked at length about the importance of aerodynamics.
It comprises a total of 36 cell modules in square aluminum housings, each of which is roughly the size of a shoe box. They are arranged on two levels, known as “floors” –a longer lower floor and a shorter upper one. At market launch, each module is equipped with twelve pouch cells having a flexible outer skin of aluminum-coated polymer. …
A cooling system of flat aluminum extruded sections divided uniformly into small chambers has the task of maintaining the battery’s high-performance operation over the long term. Heat is exchanged between the cells and the cooling system beneath them via a thermally conductive gel pressed beneath each cell module. In what is a particularly resourceful solution, the gel evenly transfers the waste heat to the coolant via the battery housing. A strong surround frame and lattice-type aluminum structure that holds the cell modules is designed to protect the battery block. A substantial aluminum plate provides protection against damage from flying stones or curbs, for instance.
Audi plans to set up a network of roadside charge points using “widespread SAE J1772 and Combined Charging System (CCS) standards.” Select public stations will use DC fast charging at up to 150 kW (a lot). Audi calls its network “Powered by Electrify America.”Audi says the nationwide network will have 500 fast-charge sites by July 2019, in 40 states and 17 metro areas. On this, Tesla will have a significant lead over Audi and other competitors.
Audi includes 1,000 kilowatts of charging with the car. That’s about 15 fill-ups or several times as many top-offs. Home users can use 120 / 240-volt chargers with up to 40 amps power delivery, allowing for an overnight charge. Audi and Amazon have partnered to offer an Audi-certified charger and installation. It does, however, let you bypass the dealer and order the car as well. Not that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the independent dealerships to have some competition in terms of customer service.
The e-tron SUV rates as a midsize vehicle, with room for five passengers. Audi is another automaker targeting the crossover / SUV / tall wagon design as the most efficient way to package people and cargo in the shortest space imaginable. In other words, another blow to the passenger sedan concept.
Audi says luggage capacity is 28.5 cubic feet, expanding to 57.0 cubic feet with the second-row seat folded down.
The LCDs are high-resolution. The main digital display (instrument panel) has a resolution of 1920 x 720 pixels. With two center stack displays and few buttons, how well Audi integrates voice input may determine how customers receive the interface. Cadillac, with its CUE interface, has gotten customer pushback because of the difficulty of interacting when the car is on a typically bumpy road.
Early intenders can go to the head of the line by paying Audi a $1,000 deposit.
Now read:BMW iNext Concept: Electrification, Self-Driving, and Style, Tesla Promises OTA Update to Fix Model 3 Autopilot After Breaking It With an OTA, and Best Car Subscription Services: Multiple New Rides Each Year, but Costs May Soar
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