A former auto assembly plant across the bay from San Francisco served as an ironically appropriate venue for Audi’s e-tron unveil tonight. Their first production vehicle in the electrified chapter of mobility is a fast charging luxury SUV. From an aesthetic perspective it’s distinctively Audi, however there are several cues that establish the beginning of the e-tron design language which is rooted in four pillars—performance, intelligence, lightness and ceremony.
Similar in volume to the mid-size Q5 SUV, the e-tron is a spacious five-seater that integrates seamlessly into Audi’s line of luxury vehicles. By removing the engine from under the bonnet, the front wheels move forward toward the corners extending the wheelbase and in turn making more room for the bed of batteries. That bed also becomes part of the design language as shown by the horizontal stacking grooves that dodge in and out around the lower perimeter of the vehicle. That linear stacking theme continues through the head and tail lights as well.
On European spec e-trons there are cameras as side mirrors which deliver on the fantasized future we’ve imagined for decades. The slim camera housings increase aerodynamics and decrease wind noise to help accentuate the serenity that is electrified driving. Inside, the virtual side mirror screens are thoughtfully integrated in the door trim above the handles. We’ve been promised this feature will make it to the US in a year, but we’re not holding our breath.
Inside, the front seats are split by a familiar console/tunnel but given it does not need to hold a drivetrain it’s open for storage while still providing a comfortable armrest and ample airflow. The sculptural shifter floats over the console and provides a hand rest, though the actual shifting mechanism is just under your thumb. The floor for the back seats, however, is completely flat making for easier movement in and out of the car. Beyond the lightness these attributes afford, on the inside you get to experience ceremony through a custom composed welcome soundtrack that replaces the age-old and familiar engine roar on start up. The ceremony is reflected on the exterior lighting package animation as well.
The e-tron boasts innovative battery design—and Amazon Home Services will offer exclusive home-charging station set-up (along with a complimentary offer of 1000kWh of charge, the equivalent of ten full charges of the vehicle’s 95kW battery). On-the-go charging can be done at up to 150kWh at select high-speed public charging stations—accumulating an 80% charge in around 30 minutes; which makes the e-tron the fastest charging electric vehicle on the market. At home, the vehicle’s battery can be charged overnight. The e-tron’s dual electric motors will get you from 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds (with a top speed of 124 mph).
Reservations for the e-tron can be made now with the expectation of receiving your vehicle in mid-2019. But, in the meantime, future-owners can track the vehicle’s progress, finalize the entirety of their electric vehicle’s arrival (including home charging needs) and study up on the world of electric mobility—all through Audi’s expansive ecosystem. The e-tron will come in Premium Plus, Prestige and First Edition packages—with MSRP at $74,800, $81,800 and $86,700, respectively.