The e-Tron is Audi’s first big push into the Pure Electric marketplace. Five years in the making, the e-Tron represents a new era of the electric vehicle – and a new era of Audi vehicles. Given that Audi (along with fellow German marques BMW and Mercedes-Benz), is one of the best-selling luxury automobile brands in the world, its engineers wanted to create a truly special electric vehicle worthy of the brand. To do it, Audi (a subsidiary of the Volkswagen conglomerate), opened a new factory in Brussels to mass-produce its new e-Tron line of electric SUVs and the batteries that power them in a certifiably carbon-neutral manner.
By John Coulter, CMO, Current EV, July 2019
e-tron has a 4-wheel drive (quattro) – thanks to a motor on each axle (a 165-kW unit on the rear axle and a 135-kW unit on the front) for a total of 355 horsepower (402 in boost mode). This creates an exhilarating 5.5-second 0–60 time and a top speed of 124 miles per hour. With that kind of power and 95.0kWh Lithium Ion battery that provides a pure electric range of 210 miles, Audi has created a solid SUV crossover EV.
Audi has gone to great lengths to take care of its e-Tron customers via a 4-year, 50,000-mile basic warranty that covers the motor, with a separate eight-year, a 100,000 mile warranty for the liquid-cooled battery, which, unlike its competitors, can be repaired rather than replaced in most cases. The brand has partnered with Electrify America to provide 1,000 hours of free charging across its network of 2,000 ultra-fast chargers. Such ultra-fast chargers allow the vehicle to charge the battery pack from 0 to 80 percent in just 30 minutes when using its 150-kilowatt recharging capability. These are great incentives for e-mobility adopters considering a luxury SUV crossover EV.
The car itself, is an even greater incentive. Both the inside and outside of this new kid on the block are visually stunning. Audi has done an incredible job of combining simplicity with beauty. The vehicle’s overall impact evokes Porsche and Tesla styling, and yet, the e-Tron has its own special curves, aerodynamics and fluidity that set it apart from the other vehicles in its class. Leather seating, a dual-center touchscreen setup that splits climate control and general vehicle functions, and a premium 3D Bang & Olufsen sound system come standard on e-Tron’s interior. E-Tron-specific software monitors cruising range, efficiency, regenerative braking and battery level.
Other noteworthy features include a top-view camera system with a virtual 360-degree and curb views, parking and lane assist, a panoramic sunroof, and 12-way power heated and ventilated front seats with driver memory.
A robust thermal management and battery conditioning system allows e-Tron to accept higher charging power than most fast charging EVs. Audi can fill up on 54 miles of range in about 10 minutes and reach an 80-percent charge (about 160 miles) in 30 minutes. e-Tron can be charged at a more common Level 2, 240-volt charging station and includes a standard 9.6-kW, 240-volt AC charging cable for use at home. At this Level 2 speed, the e-Tron goes from empty to full overnight with a 9-hour charge.
e-Trons come with 150-kW DC fast-charging capabilities that can restore 80% of the driving range in only 30 minutes. New owners will enjoy 1,000 kWh of free charging through the expanding Electrify America network.
Standard features for the Premium Plus e-Tron include 20-inch wheels, an adaptive air suspension, LED exterior lighting, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, roof rails, a power liftgate, keyless entry and ignition, a virtual instrument panel, four-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, and heated and ventilated power front seats with driver-seat memory functions.
On the tech front, you get Audi's MMI infotainment system with a 10.1-inch main touchscreen and an 8.8-inch lower touchscreen, a navigation system, a wireless charging pad with signal booster, a surround-view camera system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Audi Connect Care communications, and a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system with satellite radio. Standard advanced safety features include forward collision warning and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and vehicle exit warning.
An optional Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control with Audi's Traffic Jam Assist semi-automated driving system, a traffic sign reader, front cross-traffic collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and lane keeping assist.
Starting at an MSRP of $75,795 (including $995 for delivery), the 2019 Audi E-Tron Premium Plus is $22,425 less expensive than the most affordable $90,700 Tesla Model X Long Range (with $1,200 for delivery) when you factor the $7,500 federal tax credit that's being phased out for Tesla now that the brand's crested 200,000 EVs sold.
The 2019 Audi e-Tron is available for sale, but buyers may experience a delivery wait while the company ramps up production. Says Edmunds.com: “Among the small but growing class of electric vehicles, the 2019 Audi e-Tron has a lot going for it. As with rival EVs such as the Jaguar I-Pace and the Tesla Model X, the e-Tron benefits from acceleration that is smooth, silent and swift. On top of that, the e-Tron presents important advantages such as a large cargo area and a refined interior.
The e-Tron SUV will be followed by the e-Tron sportback later this year, along with the e-Tron GT and Q4 e-Tron in 2020.