The Volkswagen Group last week confirmed plans to roll out “50+” battery-electric vehicles by 2025 and, it seems, fully a dozen of those will be sold through its high-line luxury brand.
The first of these, simply dubbed the Audi e-tron, is set to go on sale later this year, while a production version of the e-tron GT Concept unveiled at last November’s L.A. Auto Show will hit the road next year. And now, ahead of next month’s Geneva Motor Show, we’re getting a first look at the Audi Q4 e-tron that will follow by no later than the first half of 2021.
As the Q4 name suggests, the next all-electric model will be a crossover, reflecting the fact that battery-electric vehicles won’t be immune from the rapid shift from cars to light trucks sweeping across the global auto industry.
Many of the design cues are familiar to Audi aficionados, though some take on subtle differences to signify the new all-electric e-tron family. The brand’s singleframe grille, for example, adopts a more octagonal shape here. And the headlights are more slit-like. It’s hard to tell from the rendering, but we expect that grille will be primarily decorative. Like other battery-cars, there’ll be far less need for pumping air under the hood with no internal combustion engine to breathe or cool.
(Audi offering a new way to ride at CES 2019: virtually. Click Here for the story.)
The all-electric Q4 appears likely to be about the same size as the current Audi Q3 crossover, though it adopts an even more coupe-like shape that is clearly influenced by the need to maximize aerodynamics, that explains the rather rounded side panels which break from the design language styling chief Marc Lichte has adopted for the conventional Audi line-up.
Inside, we see an instrument panel that goes even more high-tech than what we’re seeing in the latest street-ready Audis. That includes twin digital displays.
The German luxury brand isn’t saying much about the Q4 e-tron for the moment, leaving us guessing about such things as the underlying architecture. The automaker has a variety of options to choose from. There’s the platform developed for the e-tron coming to market this year, as well as the more advanced and capable PPE all-electric platform jointly being developed by Audi and sibling brand Porsche. But that isn’t expected to be ready for production until closer to 2022.
More likely, it will share the flexible MEB architecture that will anchor the vast majority of BEVs coming from the VW Group through 2025. As TheDetroitBureau.com revealed in a closer look at the MEB earlier this week, it can take on a variety of different shapes, growing longer or wider, as well as taller. It is capable of being outfitted with a single electric motor for rear-wheel-drive, or with two motors for all-wheel-drive capabilities.
(Click Here to see Iron Man help Audi unveil the new e-Tron.)
The MEB also allows for a variety of different battery pack sizes that can offer range of anywhere from around 200 miles all the way up to 400 or more. Some reports have suggested the production Q4 would start with a pack of just 48 kilowatt-hours and offer optional upgrades, much as Tesla has been doing.
The MEB platform does have its limits, according to Matthew Renna, vice president of e-Mobility for Volkswagen’s North American Region. It cannot incorporate torque vectoring, for one thing. And the motors are limited to a maximum 201 hp, Renna said, so this wouldn’t be a particularly high-performance package.
But Audi is determined to get into the electric market fast and, with a production target of somewhere between late 2020 and early 2021, it just might beat Tesla’s planned Model Y crossover to market.
(For an inside look at VW’s MEB platform that Audi will borrow for EVs, Click Here.)
What we do know is that Audi is planning to bet big on BEVs, Mark Del Rosso, the brand’s U.S. CEO, recently telling us that, “By 2025, our commitment is that 30% of our volume will be all-electric.”