A Car So Advanced It Is Illegal In Its Top-Notch Form

At its Charged Event in Northern California, Audi revealed its first all-electric SUV - the 2020 Audi E-Tron. As the newest electric vehicle on the market, the Audi E-Tron brought a wealth of new equipment, and some of it is truly cutting edge. Among the latest invasion of electric SUVs (the EQ C, the I-Pace, the iX3), the Audi E-Tron, despite its conservative appearance, surprisingly seems to be the most advanced of the lot. I will list here 15 facts and features that make the newest Audi electric SUV the most advanced, and possibly the most appealing, electric SUV on the market.

Braking system

15 Incredible Facts You Have To Know About The New 2019 Audi E-Tron Electric SUV Exterior Interior
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A few months ago, when Audi was still wrapping the E-Tron in that cool camouflage to keep the prying eyes of journalists’ from finding out too much, the company actually tested the car at the Pikes Peak. Not to show how fast it will be uphill, but to demonstrate the recuperation energy and braking performance without actually braking while driving downhill. There, the Audi E-Tron managed to add about 6.8 kWh of energy to the battery pack using the recuperation system alone.

That happened with a descent of 12.4 miles and after 156 turns. Maybe equally impressive is the fact that the driver did not have to use the braking pedal. Almost, at all.

The recuperation system is rather simple.

When you remove your foot from the gas pedal, the electric motors (there are two in the E-Tron) act as alternators and provide massive resistance in order to recuperate energy and send it back to the battery.

If you ever rode a bike with the wheel mounted dynamo, you already know the basics. The Audi-crafted recuperation system can provide 0.3 gs braking power and this allows you to, with a bit of attention, drive the E-Tron without really braking in certain conditions. The car, after all, has a one-pedal operation option. The best thing, however, is that you can actually choose how efficient recuperation should be. Consequently, your choice affects the recuperation braking performance. That with the pedals behind the wheels.

While systems like this have been used before, they’ve never reached these levels of efficiency and sophistication. In optimal conditions, Audi suggests that the system can increase the range by up to 30 percent. That’s amazing, to say the least. Efficiency at its finest. Audi is German, after all.

Battery Pack

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There’s only one car with a larger battery pack than the one in the Audi E-Tron. It is the Tesla Model X P100D.

With 95-kWh of capacity, the battery consists of 4,323 cells arranged in 96 separated modules.

This battery pack is a massive one though. It is 7 feet long and it tips the scales at 1,545 pounds. Crammed into the floor of the car, it is guarded by a special aluminum plate from the underside. As the E-Tron has so much weight that low, its center of gravity is unusually low. Compared with ICE-powered cars, of course. So many electrons floating around tend to get hot when used to the max of their potential, so a liquid cooling system is a must, obviously.

Charging

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As with every single electric car, charging is one of the biggest concerns of potential drivers and owners. That, along with the limited range, is a major deterrent factor when it comes to electric cars in general. Charging the E-Tron overnight is not an issue. You could do it with the standard 11-kW charger in a bit more than 8 hours. Buy a 22-kW charger and the recharge time will be halved.

At the most extreme end of the equation, Audi actually made it possible to recharge 80 percent of the battery in half of an hour. That when using the 150-kW DC charger.

It is the only vehicle that supports such technology.

I was curious to find out where you can get that 150-kW DC charger. You do not have one at home now, do you? Well, Volkswagen America owns a company called Electrify America that will roll out 484 electric stations all across the country (by 2019, I think). All of them will handle such chargers and be positioned at strategic points (points where you would be most likely to drive - don’t worry, Audi can predict your movements).

The thing about these chargers is that every buyer of the E-Tron will get a complimentary bonus of 1,000 kW of free charging at such stations. That’s like filling up your tank ten times for free.

Electric Motors

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Audi did not reveal full details about the U.S. version of the car, but I have something to go on because the company did choose to reveal a lot about the European Audi E-Tron. That one (as the one here, I presume) has dual asynchronous motors.

The one at the front delivers up to 170 horsepower, while the one at the back can flip out up to 190 horsepower.

Interestingly enough, under normal driving conditions (90 percent of the time, at least), the E-Tron is an RWD electric SUV. The front motor will activate only when the E-Tron feels it needs more traction or when under heavy acceleration. The torque of 413 pound-feet, available 250 milliseconds after you put your foot on the gas pedal, is also a really, really welcomed number. However, the E-Tron also has something called Boost mode.

This mode can be accessed via the Sport mode and under heavy acceleration. It will command the electric motors to send up to 400 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque to the wheels for up to eight seconds. Of course, I am citing details about the Euro car here, but I guess numbers for the U.S. version will be much the same.

Performance

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Audi’s ideology with its first all-electric SUV is dramatically different compared to what we have seen on the Jaguar I-Pace, or even the Mercedes EQC. Speed and quickness aren’t priorities.

At all.

This, of course, does not mean that the E-Tron is slow. It is not. 60 mph can be cracked in 6.6 seconds.

Select that Boost mode and you’ll do it in 5.5 seconds. At the other end, the E-Tron will comfortably hit 124 mph.

These numbers, while satisfactory, aren’t up to par with sub-5 sec 0-60 mph acceleration of other electric SUVs.

Filip Brabec, Vice President of Product Management for Audi America revealed to the Verge the reason behind that:

“We focused on everyday usability of the car, and we focused on making the transition from internal combustion car to electric car as easy and seamless as possible. We didn’t want to create a fringe quirky car. We wanted to create a very mainstream car.”

And they did. Not only in terms of performance, but in terms of looks as well. A bit more on that later.

Range

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Again, we do not have official Audi estimates for the U.S. Audi E-Tron’s range.

In Europe, according to Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), the 2020 Audi E-Tron’s range is 248.5 miles.

I’ll try to guess that according to American EPA, which is more stringent, the range will hover somewhere between 210 and 240 miles. I find this strangely similar to the range of the latest Mercedes-Benz EQC. I think that both are only playing safe with these estimates.

2020 Audi E-Tron size

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Length 198.3 inches
Width 76.3 inches
Width 65.6 inches

It is a big SUV that can host five people in great comfort and let them use all of 28.5 cubic-feet of the boot. With two on board and rear seats folded, the E-Tron’s boot capacity goes up to 57 cubic feet.

The Magic of Audi E-Tron Aerodynamics

15 Incredible Facts You Have To Know About The New 2019 Audi E-Tron Electric SUV Exterior Interior
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The Audi E-Tron is the most aerodynamic electric SUV.

With a drag coefficient of only 0.28 Cd, it is one of the most aerodynamic vehicles.

Period. However, the one in America won’t be as impressive. The installation of real rear view mirrors instead of these cool rearview cameras will increase the drag coefficient to 0.30 Cd.

Interestingly enough, Audi provided us with an estimate of how much range every 0.01 Cd of drag coefficient actually saves. In the case of the E-Tron, when drag coefficient is reduced by just 0.01 Cd, you get 3 additional miles of range. Cool.
Apart from the new cameras (which we can’t get), the Audi sports an active shutter on the front vents, special aero-efficient 19-inch wheels, and other numerous measures for cutting down drag. Furthermore, the car hunkers down by up to an inch.

Just how detailed designers were is best shown by the comment of one of Audi officials:

“The screws that hold the aluminum plate on the bottom of the battery are recessed in small dimples. Those dimples create small points of turbulence, little eddies, which can actually improve the efficiency of the air moving across the surface.”

The Germans!

Side Cameras and Matrix headlights are still illegal in the U.S.

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I have been waiting for this to happen since 2008. Back then, I saw some concept car with cameras instead of the review mirrors in person. I do not remember the car, but I do remember thinking, “well, that would be cool”.

Ten years later and the 2020 Audi E-Tron is coming to the market with side cameras positioned on fashionable and aerodynamic leavers.

The picture from the cameras is projected onto screens on the doors inside. It all looks and feels really advanced and futuristic.

And we can’t have it.

Slow and inert governing bodies have not legalized this tech in the U.S. Yet. For that reason, Audi will hand over the E-Tron to the NHTSA for testing purposes in the hope that this tech will be allowed in the U.S.

Interestingly enough, this is not the only illegal tech that Audi brought to the U.S. The E-Tron can be equipped with Matrix Lights. These are like the year 3000. And the U.S. is, well, I don’t know, but not 3000 and obviously not 2018 either. Matrix Headlights use a single laser for each headlight. Then, by some magic, the beam is completely dissolved by a diode and that light can be precisely focused by some mirrors. Apart from being very bright and very efficient, the system can actually monitor for pedestrians, it can widen or narrow the beam of light (for example to avoid blinding oncoming cars) and, in its concept form, it can even write on the road. Like it will write STOP in front of a pedestrian who is about to cross the road and who did not hear your electric Audi approaching. Yeah, nutz. The Germans.
Nevertheless, we can’t have it.

Order now, drive at the end of 2019

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With $1,000 down payment, you can reserve the new E-Tron for yourself.

According to some sources, Audi is already churning out 200 of them per day in its Brussels factory, but even with such capacity, American customers wont get their cars until the second quarter of 2019 or in the fall of the same year.

Audi E-Tron Price of $74,800

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The least expensive Audi E-Tron Quattro is still an expensive car.

Starting at $74,800, it obviously targets the buyers of the I-Pace ($70,000), the entry Model X ($79.500), or the EQC (est. $80,000).

Opting for additional equipment will jack up this price quite a bit. I would not be surprised if the most expensive E-Tron comes near the 100 grand mark.

Hurry Up If You Want To Order The Audi E-Tron First Edition

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With only 999 units planned, the Audi E-Tron First Edition is obviously already an appealing prospect.

Yet, Audi garnished the car with numerous styling touches such as the orange accents on the inside, the orange brake caliper, 21-inch wheels, and more. This limited edition model sells for $86,700

Three trim levels are available

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Premium Plus

The phrase entry-level simply does not seem fitting for listing the equipment of the Audi E-Tron Premium Plus (the least expensive one):

  • Air suspension
  • 20-inch wheels
  • LED lights
  • Heated and cooled seats,
  • Panoramic sunroof,
  • Inductive wireless smartphone charging

Prestige First Edition

This one will add features like massagers to the seats, a driver assistance package, a head-up display, and other.

Finally, the last of the three trim levels available is that “First Edition” model. I already told you about it, but let me tell you that it will also feature a special exterior paint scheme and a night vision camera.

Is This The Best Interior by Audi?

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Of course, it is luxurious. It also reminds me of the interiors from the other high-end modern Audis. However, as is the case with basically any modern electric car, the interior showcases what will be eventually introduced in all other cars down the line.

The interior is quite sophisticated and looks rich in buttons, in leather, in screens, and technology.

The latest MMI system will respond to your voice inputs thanks to Amazon Alexa Voice Assistant integration, and you will be able to control the infotainment via touch, sound, or gesture.

Design (my take)

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I find it quite interesting how Audi disregarded the trend of designing strange looking, futuristic electric SUVs. If this thing had an ICE no one would have said a word. It would be just an ordinary Audi SUV with an ICE.

Now, it is an ordinary Audi SUV with electric motors. That is maybe the whole point - to make a car anyone would consider buying.

After all, Audi America Vice President, Filip Brabec, said the company wanted to create a “mainstream car”. Well, there you have it. It looks mainstream, despite its electric propulsion system.

Sure, some will say it could look better, others will praise it, but the thing is it is not an oddball like the EQC. It is not a sports/coupe/SUV hybrid like the I-Pace. It is just a posh SUV, only powered by an electric motor. That’s enough of a reason to like it.

What Else Did We Learn at the Audi Charged event?

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Autonomous cars won’t solve traffic problems.

Simply put, there are too many cars are on the roads. However, if all the cars on the roads were autonomous (highly unlikely to happen within our lifetime - if ever), Audi’s study suggests that commute times would be shortened by a third.

Audi’s monthly vehicle subscription service in Texas will offer the E-Tron!

Following global automotive trends, Audi started with testing its own subscription service called Audi On-Demand.

The service offers short car loans for $1,395 per month to its customers. For the price, you will have access to five different Audi cars - the A4, the A5 convertible, the S5 coupe, the Q5, and the Q7. The E-Tron will enter the system as well, but at undisclosed conditions.

Further reading

15 Incredible Facts You Have To Know About The New 2019 Audi E-Tron Electric SUV Exterior Interior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Audi E-tron Quattro.

2015 Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2015 Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept.

Audi Could Be Adding a New Take on Its Logo
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Read more Audi news.

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