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.
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.
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.
Car & Driver reviewers say: "The 2019 Audi e-tron Is the Anti-Tesla EV. If it foreshadows the future, the e-tron is also very much of the moment. Electric motors drive the front and rear axles, a 1543-pound array of lithium-ion battery cells rides beneath the floor, and a mid-size SUV wrapper casts it into the thickest part of the luxury auto market. Even as Audi electrified the heart of this SUV, it left the brand's character fully intact. The e-tron looks like an Audi, drives like an Audi, and, hell, even sounds like an Audi. The decision to hew close to Audi's established design language and familiar vehicle attributes should ease the transition from gas to electrons for the brand's current customers. It also makes the e-tron the anti-Tesla of sorts. Whereas driving a Tesla is the strongest anti-establishment statement six figures can buy, the e-tron suggests a more natural evolution for our current automotive institutions."
The e-Tron’s battery range has been estimated by test drivers at around 210 miles. Audi claims it will exceed 248 miles.
The Premium Plus model starts at $74,800. Standard items include: Dual asynchronous electric motors; Audi pre sense city & side assist; Matrix-design LED headlights; a Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium sound system; Heated and ventilated front seats; MMI Navigation with Virtual Cockpit Plus; and a Top view camera with virtual 3D.
The Prestige model starts at $81,800. Standard items include everything on the Premium model, plus: Driver Assistance Package; Head-up display; Individual contour seats with Valcona leather; a Massage function for front seats; an Air quality package – ionizer and fragrance; and Power door closers.
Car & Driver: “In the tradition of Audi's internal-combustion models, the e-Tron's cabin is wonderfully serene at speed. An acoustically insulating windshield and side glass and extensive underbody insulation block the din of wind and road noise that would otherwise fill the acoustic void created by the absence of an internal-combustion engine. More impressive, Audi has all but eliminated the high-frequency whine that's common in EVs during acceleration. The e-Tron's motors are encapsulated inside polyurethane boxes and mounted to the subframes through rubber bushings (the rear subframe is also rubber-isolated from the body structure) to isolate noise and vibration. The cabin is also a modern, high-tech wonder. With the same MMI Touch Response system used in the Q8 and Audi's large cars, a pair of pressure-sensitive haptic-feedback touchscreens control nearly everything outside of steering, braking, and accelerating. The digital instrument cluster can be filled with Google Earth navigation. Because the e-Tron falls between a Q5 and a Q7 in exterior length, it offers ample rear-seat space for two adults to comfortably outlast the battery's range.”
Mark Takahashi, Senior Reviews Editor at Edmunds says: “One thing that stands out once you're driving the Audi e-Tron is what's missing: noise. It's remarkably quiet on the highway, more so than other EVs. Typically in electric cars, the absence of an engine makes road and wind noise more noticeable, even though the cabin is quieter. Audi's inclusion of more sound insulation and dual-pane front windows is a big contributor to the cabin's serenity. The quietness contributes to an already enjoyable cabin. The front seats are shaped and cushioned for comfort over long distances. And the same can be said for the rear seats; there's a wealth of space for taller adults back there. Even though the e-Tron has sporty driving dynamics, ride quality doesn't suffer. It's as smooth over bumps as any other luxury SUV of this size. Accolades for the e-Tron's convenience and utility continue to pour in. There is 28.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and when folded, that area expands to 57 cubic feet. Since there's no need for a fuel tank, a deep bin resides under the cargo floor. The lack of a gas engine also allows for a shallow 2-cubic-foot bin under the hood, making for an excellent place to store charging cables.”
For luxury SUV buyers who continue to be skeptical of battery-electric technology, Audi e-Tron has an excellent chance of convincing them otherwise.
REVISED JULY 2019
There are currently 4 primary incentives available to the California consumer that substantially lower the cost of buying or leasing an EV. CURRENT provides all the guidance or assistance you may need to apply for these incentives.