The e-tron name isn't new to Audi. It was granted to the A3 and then the Q7, as Audi dabbled in plug-in hybrids. At the same time, Audi was producing e-tron concepts as it aligned the compass on an electric future.
There was the Audi e-tron Quattro concept and the Audi e-tron Sportback concept, the which appear to channel directly into what we can expect from the production Audi e-tron, currently doing the rounds as the prototype. There are 250 prototypes on the roads in testing.
What will the production car be called? We suspect something along the lines of Audi e-tron Quattro, although Audi has confirmed there will be both the launch SUV, and then a production version of the Sportback too.
When will the Audi e-tron launch?
Audi has already confirmed that the Audi e-tron will be unveiled in August. The company has also detailed that it's being built in Brussels, with the facility adapted to be carbon neutral, to offset any qualms about buying a zero emissions car that produced loads of emissions during its construction.
Despite not all details about the car being revealed, you can also put your name on the order list now, with Audi accepting £1000 deposits for priority ordering.
Delivery of cars is expected to be in late-2018 in Europe.
What will the Audi e-tron cost?
That's the million dollar question, or more likely, the £60,000 question. Audi's chairman Rupert Stadler said €80,000 at the company's Annual Press Conference according to a report from Electrek.
With the Jaguar I-Pace costing around the £63,000 mark, we suspect that this is a realistic target. The Tesla Model X costs around £88,000 for the AWD version of the 100D and we'd guess that somewhere in this range will suit Audi, as the e-tron will be a premium SUV.
Audi e-tron design
The Audi e-tron is currently camouflaged in the form of the e-tron prototype, although it's pretty easy to picture what this car will look like from the exterior. There's an evolution from the e-tron Quattro concept to make it slightly less edgy and there are plenty of hallmarks of Audi design here.
As we said, there are 250 prototypes on the roads for testing, so sightings are pretty common and we don't think there will be too many surprises from the exterior when we hit that reveal in August. You can expect something that slots into the space between the Q5 and the Q7, although we think it has a sportier design overall.
For the interior we know a lot less about what the production car will feature. The Concept models had a futuristic vision, but in reality we expect the e-tron to be a lot more "normal". Audi has said a number of times that the e-tron is an Audi first so it will be designed to fit Audi owner's expectations.
From this we'd imagine that the interior will be a modern evolution of current SUV interiors, certainly it will be aiming for the usually high standards of fit and finish. We'd expect the incorporation of lots of touchscreen interfaces like the new Audi A8 and Audi A7. This is the direction that MMI is moving in and it would fit to find it here - it's reflected in the concept and we can see that in those new models too. Below is the A7 interior design, which is similar to the concept design.
With that in mind, we'd expect to see Audi Virtual Cockpit and all the normal technology options that come with it. The concept also showed off a solar panoramic sunroof. Whether this will be an option on the production model we don't know, but we hope so.
We also know it will be a five-seat model.
Audi e-tron battery and range
This is where we know a lot more. Audi has confirmed that the e-tron will have a 95kWh battery, it will deliver 400km range based on WLTP testing and it will support 150kW charging.
The battery will sit in the floor of the car between the front and rear axles under the passenger cabin. It weighs around 700kg and is comprised of 36 modules containing 12 pouch cells each. The battery can be removed and individual modules replaced if necessary.
The entire battery has an integrated thermal management system that can cool or heat the battery to maintain optimal battery conditions between 25-35 degrees centigrade. There's a radiator in the front of the car for low load cooling and a secondary chiller system for cooling in more demanding situations. The chiller cycle can be reversed for heating if necessary in colder conditions.
Audi says that the thermal management system allows for consistent performance from the battery.
The Audi e-tron will have a CCS type socket on the left-hand side of the car. CCS combines both fast AC charging (compatible with common type 2 plugs) as well as rapid DC charging in the same socket.
There will be the option for a second AC socket on the right-hand side of the car, although as we understand it, this will be a customer option and is really only for convenience.
The Audi e-tron's headline charging feature is support for 150kW charging making it the fastest charging EV to hit the market yet - Tesla supports 120kW charging. That 150kW charging is DC charging, but you'll need to find the source for that.
Audi is part of the Ionity network which it installing these 150kW chargers on major traffic routes around Europe. There will be 200 in place by the end of 2018. At 150kW, the Audi e-tron will charge to 80 per cent in 30 minutes.
The Audi e-tron has an 11kW charger onboard to convert AC to DC for more regular charging at home and via existing public charging points. This will enable recharging to 100 per cent in 8.5 hours and is what you're likely to use for home charging.
11kW charging will be supported by the "compact" charging cable that will come with the car which can also be fitted with a standard domestic plug for 2.3kW charging. Otherwise, Audi is supporting 400V industrial sockets, which is what you might need to install at home.
Audi e-tron will also support 22kW charging, although this is a step-up option. For this you'll need a second charger in the car (basically another box) to enable this faster rate. You can then charge using the "connect" charger, which also enables some smarter charging features, with the ability to reduce charging to 4.5 hours.
Audi e-tron Charging Service
To make charging simple, Audi will be launching the e-tron Charging Service. This will be a single card that aggregates all public charging points, so you won't have to have multiple subscriptions, apps or cards to use public points - just the one provided by Audi.
The aim is to ensure that Audi drivers can arrive in a public car park, supermarket or service station and know that they can charge the car without hassle. It will be managed by one app.
Audi says that it is in negotiation with all the major provides across Europe so the scheme will be in place and cover 80 per cent of the public network at launch later in 2018.
We have no idea what the service will cost and how the economics will work out compared to going direct to an individual network.
Audi e-tron performance and powertrain
Aside from the battery performance, Audi hasn't confirmed many details about the powertrain or the performance of the car.
What has been confirmed is that the Audi e-tron will be Quattro, so it will offer all-wheel drive, and intelligently managed as it is with Quattro Ultra, with the ability to change the power to the front and rear of the car as needed for the driving conditions.
The e-tron concept talked about three electric motors, but newer technical images reveal that the production model is likely to have two motors, front and rear. Audi hasn't revealed what the power of these motors will be.
When it comes to driving performance, we also don't have details of the production car here either. The concept touted a 0-62mpg figure of 4.6 seconds and 800Nm torque. This speed is actually pretty close to the Jaguar I-Pace and the Tesla Model X, so we think it remains realistic.
Audi has ruled out a Ludicrous mode to compete with Tesla, saying that it will be an Audi first and it will drive like an Audi and meet Audi expectations. With that said, we'd expect a Sport mode at least.
We're expecting to learn more about the final details for Audi's electric car as we approach launch in August 2018, so be sure to check back.