Audi to take on Tesla with electric car launch

20 Aug 2015


Audi plans to show off an electric crossover with a range that rivaled Tesla Motors's Model S, adding to the pressure on the electric-carmaker as it prepared to add an SUV of its own.

Audi's E-tron Quattro concept, to be unveiled next month at the Frankfurt auto show, is capable of driving over 500km before recharge, according to the Ingolstadt, Germany-based carmaker's statement.

Though that was more than the 420km range of the Tesla for the base version of the Model S, it trailed behind the 528km of the 85D variant.

The display car comes with three electric motors and includes movable components at the front, side and rear for improved aerodynamics and extended driving range.

The E-tron concept was a precursor to an electric sport-utility vehicle that Audi planned to  start producing in 2018.

Tesla, run by Elon Musk, is gaining traction with an increasing number of people, and poses a growing threat to larger luxury-car brands like Audi.

According to commentators, the preview, called the E-tron Quattro concept, would show off research and development going toward a new pure-electric SUV.

The auto industry in general saw electrification  as a necessary step for its future and Tesla had been a lead player in the field with its Model S electric sedan.

Audi has begun exploring electrification with various concept cars under its E-tron brand in the past few years, and will soon make available its A3 E-tron plug-in hybrid.

According to Audi, its concept was extremely aerodynamic for an SUV, boasting a 0.25 coefficient of drag. Audi was able to achieve that figure through smoothing the underside and lowering the cabin roof.

Audi plans to pack the battery between the rear wheels and along the underside of the car, like in the Tesla Model S, serving to lower the centre of gravity. No information on charge times or standards was yet available.

Audi has used three electric motors in the concept, one driving the front wheels and one for each rear wheel. That configuration not only supported all-wheel drive, but allowed torque vectoring across the rear wheels and as such the drive system could intelligently apply more torque to the outside rear wheel in a turn, for improved handling.

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