It wouldn’t be fair to say that Audi is a company spearheading the electric car revolution which looks almost certain to sweep the global automotive industry over the next couple of decades. But Audi is at least trying to catch up to the market leaders, especially Tesla. As a company that has always been on the cutting edge of automotive technology, being left behind as every other car maker starts churning out beautiful electric vehicles is unthinkable. Audi has to do something.
This week we got the news that they are planning a new electric car called the E-tron to take on Tesla’s mighty Model S – a car that has been shredding Audi in the luxury segment over the last three years. Now Audi is indicating that it’s had enough of the punishment and it will be hitting back with both a sedan as well as an electric sportback car, making its electric vehicle lineup very similar to that of Tesla.
The only problem is that the new E-tron won’t be on sale anytime soon. According to the press release by the company, the earliest we’re likely to see an electric Audi that can go toe-to-toe with Elon Musk’s machine the spring in 2019, nearly a full year after the release of Tesla’s mainstream Model 3. Like the A7, the E-tron will initially target the high end of the market, and it comes with similar lines, giving it a sleek look from front to back. However, it’ll be a lot more spacious than the A7, thanks to its elevated roof.
As Farzam Law points out, accidents are extremely costly to drivers. As a result, the E-tron will come equipped with an entire suite of technologies designed to prevent the car from hitting other vehicles and people. Like many concept cars, the E-tron is imagined as coming with Audi’s Pilot Drive, a technology which Audi say will be able to drive the car by itself in slowly moving traffic on the highway.
Following the recent decision in Japan to allow cameras to replace mirrors, the E-tron concept is also mirrorless, meaning that they car will have less drag and increased ranged. Whether the regulators will allow mirrorless cars in Europe and North America remains to be seen, but the E-tron could be one of the first mirrorless cars available in those regions.
If there’s one thing that Tesla has managed to do well, it’s get the executive class excited about acceleration again. Before the Model S, if you wanted a road-legal car that went from 0 to 62 mph in under three seconds, you were looking at paying at least a million dollars. Tesla brought the price of that performance down by a factor of ten, thanks to the P90D and P100D. Audi is now trying to do the same with the E-tron. It won’t be as fast off the line as a Model 3, going from 0 to 62 mph in just under 4.5 seconds. But it will still be very fast. And for an electric car, that’s important.