What a strange matchup that will be...
It would almost seem like the ultimate irony just a few years back to expect that the electric car's charge into the mainstream auto market would come wrapped within a trojan horse that looks like an SUV, but the conditions couldn't be more perfect. With a huge uptick in SUV sales, automakers want to show the general public that they won't have to alter their tastes in order to save the environment and comply with government regulations. Audi aims to be a prominent leader in this charge with the e-tron SUV.
Though a senior Audi executive told Autocar that the e-tron SUV's 2018 debut date will make it "the first real premium manufacturer doing a premium electric SUV," it's worth noting that Jaguar hopes to roll out its own all-electric I-Pace SUV during the same year. Still, we're getting excited for Audi's Tesla Model X fighter, which will apparently be sized closely to the Q5 although it will slot between the Q5 and Q7 in terms of size. On initial impression, this hints at a Q6 varient, but Audi has confirmed that the Q6 will be a separate project that will be a four-door SUV coupe based off of the Q6, sort of like BMW makes its X6 a sportier version of its X5.
For a platform, Audi is borrowing the Porsche Mission E's soon to be proven electric car underpinnings, which will supposedly feature superb handling and the malleability to be used on a number of vehicular applications. Sweetening the deal is the fact that the e-tron SUV will look similar to the concept we saw at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. "That concept is quite close to the series production car," said Audi sales and marketing boss Dietmar Voggenreiter. Those curious to know why Audi waited until its competitors could get a jump on development will be happy to hear that the decision was made to allow the battery technology to mature to the point that a 311 mile range would be possible.
Furthermore, Audi wanted to wait until electric car charging infrastructures were up to par. Audi's parent company Volkswagen has recently partnered with BMW, Ford, and Mercedes' parent, the Daimler Group, to roll out a standardized fast charging network that will have much more of a foothold by 2018. Branding will also be unique to Audi, unlike BMW's i and Mercedes' EQ sub brands, with the e-tron name being used as a suffix on its electric and plug-in hybrid models. While styling of future e-tron models will be unmistakably Audi, they will deviate from Audi designer Mac Lichte's flavor that was seen on the Audi Prologue Concept at the 2014 LA Auto Show. Whatever it does, we just hope e-tron won't replace our RS models.