The twin truths of America's automated future are: there will be trucks, and there will be electricity. Audi has already…
The twin truths of America’s automated future are: there will be trucks, and there will be electricity. Audi has already entered his E-throne SUV, but now it’s also half-bored and hopes to prove it, no matter what GM thinks, Americans still have space in their driveway for sedans. At least sporty, imported, electric.
On Monday evening, the German car company gave journalists, dealers and various bigwigs a preview of their new halo electric car. Robert Downey, Jr. was in place in a suit and pink high-tops-to retract the cover as classic Kraftwerk pounded from the speakers. (Iron Man and Audi have a relationship that goes back to the product placement of R8 in the first movie.)
The Audi E-tron GT concept is a four-door Gran Turismo (should not be großer tourer ?), which will be commissioned by 2020. The car is low, wide and long, with a sloping ceiling resembling the A7, the most beautiful of Audis sedans. The most characteristic parts of the structure are heavy backs, such as a muscle car and a deeply chopped threshold, which runs under the doors between the wheels. This is the intentionally noticeable home for the battery, which Audi calls the car’s “energy center”. Other features that may not make it to production include glowing touch-sensitive buttons instead of door handles, big wheels that look a bit like the aero design on Teslas Model 3, so it could help with range and a retro-cool illuminated red E- tron mark in the rear bumper.
Despite the presence of the big battery, the car is two inches lower than the A7, says Audi Design Manager Marc Lichte. “We developed a smart battery of different heights,” he says. Most of the mass has been moved to under the seats, with cut outs to foot wells, instead of the usual platform “skateboard” design.
The honeycomb grill extends horizontally as opposed to the vertical grille of the E-throne SUV. The upper half of the grill is turned off. “It’s not a radiator anymore, it’s just a surface with sensors beneath,” says Lichte. There are still large air inlets to cool the battery and the brakes, and also reduce turbulent airflow to make the vehicle more aerodynamic. Animated headlights create a pulsed wave of light when the driver approaches the car, which Audi says will make it sometime production (but may not breathe in the US). On the back, the only red light strip appears to burst and spread at the edges to form the tail lights, which have a small amount of Ford Mustang to them.
The GT concept is the third car in the Audis E-tron series. The SUV hit the market this year. Sportback is more practical, halfway, for anyone who needs the practice of an SUV, but longing for a coupe flash. The GT is based on the same platform as Porsche Taycan (VW Siblings), so performance figures are very interesting.
GT will develop 590 horsepower from two electric motors, one front, one back, making it the whole wheel, or quattro. Audi says it will make 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, with a limited top speed of 1
49 mph. And it should be able to make that sprint over and over again, without it having become a performance – a criticism of some earlier power like the Tesla Model S – due to its powerful cooling.
The battery is a 90 kWh package, which Audi says will provide 248 miles of range, per European test cycle. Expect the number to release the official US EPA test. It’s on par with other luxury EV like Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC, but it’s big, big SUV. The similar low and tight Tesla Model S gets 315 miles out of its 100 kWh package.
E-throne GT, like Porsche Taycan, has a 800 volt battery system. It makes fast charging even faster than the more typical 400 volt architecture seen in today’s EV. Audi claims 20 minutes to fill 80 percent, but it’s because of finding a charger that can deliver that juice. Porsche equips their retailers with quick chargers for their customers, but no word about whether Audi will do the same.
Still recovering from its diesel emissions scandal, Audi’s parent company, Volkswagen, is being charged in electrification. Audi says to 2025, 30 percent of its sales volume will be EV.
Sedans can be heresy to American automakers at the moment, but Autobahn supermarkets still sell well in Europe and China. And if Audi and Porsche can deliver electric cars that look as good as their concepts, they have the chance to win over US drivers again.