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, led by the Audi e-tron Quattro concept and the Audi e-tron Sportback concept.
Soon to come is the production Audi e-tron, the company's first fully electric SUV, set to compete with the likes of the Jaguar i-Pace. The Audi has had some 250 e-tron prototypes on the road, further details were announced at the Audi Brand Summit in Shenzhen on 5 June and now we have a launch date too.
So what will the production car be called? That's still not fully clear. We suspect something along the lines of Audi e-tron Quattro, although Audi has confirmed there will be both the launch SUV, then a production version of the Sportback too, with three electric cars to be launched by 2020.
When will the Audi e-tron launch?
Audi has confirmed that the Audi e-tron will be unveiled on 17 September, in San Francisco. The original date was 30 August in Brussels, but this seems to have been shifted to a global launch in USA.
Audi USA confirmed that from 17 September you'd be able to configure your Audi e-tron online, as well as putting down a reservation deposit of $1000 (fully refundable).
Despite all details about the car not yet being known, Europeans can put their 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. For the USA, it's expected that delivery will be early 2019.
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. And the company hasn't commented any more since.
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 all-wheel version of the 100D) and we'd presume 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.
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 - just as the new Audi Q8 does.
While the Concept models had a futuristic vision for the interior, the production e-tron is a lot more conventional. Audi has said a number of times that the e-tron is an Audi first - so it is designed to fit Audi owner's expectations.
The interior has been shown-off, confirming that it follows the same lines as the new Audi A8 and Audi A7. This is the direction that MMI is moving in and it fits in here. There's also a Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System, with 16 speakers and 705W power - although we expect that's an option.
Audi Virtual Cockpit is a standard feature, but the video exterior mirrors are optional - and the legality of digital mirrors varies by territory, so some won't be able to have this option. But Audi says that these digital mirror will offer different views, customisable to fit the situation.
Overall the interior doesn't look hugely different to Audi's latest models - but being normal is part of the aim here. The e-tron isn't designed to be different, it's designed to be stoically - reassuringly - familiar.
Audi e-tron battery and range
Audi has confirmed that the e-tron will have a 95kWh battery, it will deliver 400km range (based on WLTP testing - at the Brand Summit the brand commented it'll have 500km range) and it will support 150kW charging. Importantly this battery will fully recharge in an ultra-rapid 30 minutes.
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, something that, for example, the Nissan Leaf doesn't offer.
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 is 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. The company 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. FAW-VW chairman Jing Qingchun did confirm on stage at the Brand Summit in Shenzhen that it will have "extreme acceleration that's similar to Audi Sport models". Sounds like it'll be thrilling.
The concept car 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 for the production car.
Elsewhere there'll be Quattro, so the e-tron will offer all-wheel drive, and be 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.
Of course, as more details become known, we'll continue to update as we approach launch day.