Audi is preparing another road show for its stakeholders in New Zealand, this time with four left-hand drive examples of the e-tron, Audi’s first all-electric SUV.
The EV cars are due to land in Auckland in the next few days, before being made ready for their public appearances from June 6 as a prelude to the arrival later in the year of NZ-spec, right-hand drive models.
“The right-hand drive models are being built right now,” said Audi NZ general manager Dean Sheed. “New Zealand will be the first country in Asia-Pacific to get the e-tron.”
The e-tron SUV introduces electric all-wheel-drive (AWD), a new generation of Audi’s signature quattro system. There’s an electric motor working on each axle, both powered by a 95kw/h battery pack under the floor and between the wheels.
The rear motor is slightly more powerful than the front, a deliberate powertrain placement to give the e-tron a rear-drive bias in normal running. When needed, the AWD system can distribute torque to both axles in an instant.
The front motor delivers 139kW/309NM; the rear 125kW/236Nm, for a total output of 264kW/545Nm. But a boost mode pushes output to 300kW/664Nm for eight seconds of sustained acceleration.
Audi claims a range for a fully charged e-tron of upwards of 400km. It says the SUV sprints from 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 200km/h.
Tests in Europe have shown the car’s get-up-and-go is not as quick as its main rivals the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace. One reason is its weight – e-tron is 2.5-tonnes, Model X and I-Pace are around 2-tonnes. The e-tron battery pack alone weighs 700kg.
The new EV is longer than an Audi Q5 but shorter than a Q7. Its height is adjustable by 76mm, aiding getting in and out and mild off-road running. It seats five and has a large 605-litre boot. Key equipment includes adaptive air suspension, LED headlights, 360 degree cameras, keyless and charging points on both sides of the vehicle.
Options include a world-first: e-tron is available with side cameras instead of mirrors. These display their information on touchscreen panels (pictured above) in the doors themselves. The panels can then be used to fine-tune the view, including a wider angle for use on the motorway.
While Audi is committed to emissions-free driving, its CEO Bram Schot (pictured below) has said there is concern about the continued supply of batteries and other vital EV components.
That’s why the carmaker wants to speed up development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Schot has pledged to “put more priority in hydrogen fuel cells – more money, more capacity of people and more confidence.”
Audi’s hydrogen concept car will be revealed by the end of the year. It will be followed in 2021 by a limited production model with a battery pack good for around 150km of pure electric driving. Like earlier hydrogen models from Honda and Toyota, the Audi car will likely be available only on lease.
The hydrogen fuel cell technology for the both the upcoming concept and production vehicle will come from Audi’s fuel cell partnership with Hyundai announced last year.
Said Audi NZ boss Sheed of the collaboration: “If the might of the two brands, Audi and Hyundai, can’t sort out fuel cell vehicles I’m not sure who can.”