Audi e-tron: first electric SUV rolls off production line ahead of launch

Audi e-tron

The first Audi e-tron was produced in Belgium, watched over by members of the firm’s management team

Audi confirms e-tron will offer 402bhp and 490lb ft, and can achieve 0-62mph in less than six seconds

The Audi e-tron SUV, the firm’s first full electric car, has gone into volume production at its factory in Brussels, Belgium.

The machine, which is due to be revealed on September 17, will feature a maximum power output of 402bhp and torque of 490lb ft, which will enable it to reach 62mph in less than six seconds. It will have an electronically limited top speed of 124mph.

The e-tron will be built at Audi Brussels, which has been comprehensively reworked to produce electric cars. Audi’s production boss, Peter Kossler, joined factory manager Patrick Danau to watch the first e-tron – finished in Catalunya Red paint – come off the production line.

The confirmation that the e-tron has gone into volume production at the plant comes on the same day that rival Mercedes will launch its EQC electric SUV.

The e-tron will be launched at the Audi Summit, which was postponed from earlier this year. It will be powered by a dual-motor powertrain using a 95kWh lithium ion battery and capable of 150kW DC fast charging. The latter is claimed as a world first and is 30kW more rapid than Tesla‘s Supercharger network. It can charge the car in just 30 minutes.

Under normal driving conditions, the combined power of the car’s two motors is 350bhp, with torque of 414lb ft of torque, although a boost mode unlocks the full 402bhp for up to eight seconds.

Also confirmed is the use of alternating current AC chargers that can top up the battery by recovering energy on the move. As standard, the car will feature 11kW chargers for this, although 22kW chargers will be available as an option to enhance the recovery rate.

Audi previously revealed details about the car’s regenerative braking system, which it says can recuperate up to 30% of the car’s total range. The car brakes using an electrohydraulic system for quicker responses, thanks to the additional pressure of a hydraulic piston. The system, Audi claims, can reduce braking distance by up to 20%, as there is little delay in getting the brakes applied with full pressure.

Home charging details have also been disclosed, with Audi claiming that the e-tron can charge fully in 8.5 hours when connected to a 400V three-phase outlet. It’s yet to reveal times for when the car is attached to a regular 230V household plug.

The extra technical info for the e-tron was shown to the press at a Siemens heavy-duty electrical engineering test centre in Berlin, Germany, where the car was subjected to a symbolic 500kV test to ‘spark the car into life’.

The brand previously showed interior images of its upcoming e-tron electric SUV, including the cameras in the front passenger doors which will enable the world’s first ‘virtual’ exterior mirrors.

The E-tron’s most notable new technology – the virtual exterior mirrors – which will be optional, replace conventional door mirrors and project digital images onto screens located inside the car where the front doors meet the dashboard. They help to reduce the car’s aerodynamic drag coefficient to just 0.28, claims Audi.

First ride: Audi e-tron 2018 prototype

These more compact exterior cameras combine with active aerodynamics and air suspension that can lower the car into its most aerodynamic position when cruising, giving the car a claimed drag coefficient figure that makes it 0.04 slipperier than the smaller Q2 SUV.

Audi says that without the e-tron’s selection of drag-reducing features, the large electric SUV would be 21 miles shorter on range per charge. With them, the car is good for a 248-mile range, according to WLTP (which is a tougher test than the outgoing NEDC test). At the last Audi summit, a source confirmed to Autocar that a 500km (310 miles) range is possible. Acceleration will be on par with other Audi Sport models.

Audi official images show the car’s aerodynamics at work – and demonstrate the minimal drag created by the small virtual mirrors.

That also suggests the e-tron will be badged 55 under Audi’s new naming system, which has been introduced to put combustion-engined, hybrid and battery-powered electric vehicles on an even footing in the hierarchy.

“We have decided to keep the e-tron name and use it like quattro,” an Audi source told Autocar. “The first of our sporty models was simply named the Audi Quattro. Our first all-electric car will simply be badged Audi e-tron.”

While powerful, the production e-tron’s output is less than the 496bhp quoted for the two concepts shown so far, because those featured a three-motor powertrain with a single front motor and twin rear motors.

However, the choice of a twin-motor layout at launch paves the way for Audi to introduce a performance e-tron powered by three motors a couple of years later.

Audi has mounted the car’s lithium ion battery pack low in the floor, between the front and rear axles, to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible and maximise crash protection. The battery pack will use pouch-type cells packaged into 36 shoebox-sized modules.

Each module contains 12 pouches, supplied either by LG Chem or Samsung, and each rated at 60Ah; that’s higher than those used by both Nissan and Tesla.

The bulk of the modules are in a flat main casing, but some are housed in a supplementary ‘saddle’ casing above the main battery and under the rear seat.

The battery is not light, though, contributing at least 700kg to the e-tron’s kerb weight.

A key part of the battery is a water-based ‘lattice’ cooling system, bonded to the underside of the modules to maximise heat transfer and shedding heat through a conventional, front-mounted radiator. A second heat pump system with a plate heat exchanger – in effect an air-con system – can boost cooling or heating to keep the battery at its optimum operating range of …read more

Source:: Autocar

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